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Neuron. 2003 Dec 18;40(6):1133-45.

Loss of TGF-beta 1 leads to increased neuronal cell death and microgliosis in mouse brain.

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Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


TGF-beta1 is a key regulator of diverse biological processes in many tissues and cell types, but its exact function in the developing and adult mammalian CNS is still unknown. We report that lack of TGF-beta1 expression in neonatal Tgfb1(-/-) mice results in a widespread increase in degenerating neurons accompanied by reduced expression of synaptophysin and laminin and a prominent microgliosis. Lack of TGF-beta1 also strongly reduces survival of primary neurons cultured from Tgfb1(-/-) mice. TGF-beta1 deficiency in adult Tgfb1(-/+) mice results in increased neuronal susceptibility to excitotoxic injury, whereas astroglial overexpression of TGF-beta1 protects adult mice against neurodegeneration in acute, excitotoxic and chronic injury paradigms. This study reveals a nonredundant function for TGF-beta1 in maintaining neuronal integrity and survival of CNS neurons and in regulating microglial activation. Because individual TGF-beta1 expression levels in the brain vary considerably between humans, this finding could have important implications for susceptibility to neurodegeneration.

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