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J Neurosci Res. 2004 Apr 15;76(2):205-15.

PACAP promotes neural stem cell proliferation in adult mouse brain.

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NeuroNova AB, Stockholm, Sweden.


In recent years, it has become evident that neural stem cells in the adult mammalian brain continuously generate new neurons, mainly in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb. Although different growth factors have been shown to stimulate neurogenesis in the adult brain, very little is known about the role of neuropeptides in this process. Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a neuropeptide with pleiotropic effects acting through three receptors to which it has high affinity, namely, PACAP receptor 1 (PAC1), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) receptor 1, and VIP receptor 2. We show that PAC1 is expressed in the neurogenic regions of the adult mouse brain, namely the ventricular zone of the lateral ventricle and the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Cultured neural stem cells isolated from the lateral ventricle wall of adult mice express PAC1 and proliferate in vitro in response to two PAC1 agonists, PACAP and Maxadilan, but not VIP at physiologic concentrations, indicating PAC1 as a mediator of neural stem cell proliferation. Pharmacologic and biochemical characterization of PACAP-induced neural stem cell proliferation revealed the protein kinase C pathway as the principal signaling pathway, whereas addition of epidermal growth factor synergistically enhanced the proliferating effect of PACAP. Further in vitro characterization of the effect of PACAP on neural stem cells showed PACAP capable of stimulating ex novo in vitro formation of multipotent neurospheres with the capacity to generate both neuronal and glial cells. Finally, intracerebroventricular infusion of PACAP increases cell proliferation in the ventricular zone of the lateral ventricle and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. We conclude that PACAP, through PAC1, is a potent mediator of adult neural stem cell proliferation.

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