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Stem Cells. 2006 Dec;24(12):2792-800. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

Nitric oxide exposure diverts neural stem cell fate from neurogenesis towards astrogliogenesis.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Neurology, Neuroimmunology Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Regeneration of cells in the central nervous system is a process that might be affected during neurological disease and trauma. Because nitric oxide (NO) and its derivatives are powerful mediators in the inflammatory cascade, we have investigated the effects of pathophysiological concentrations of NO on neurogenesis, gliogenesis, and the expression of proneural genes in primary adult neural stem cell cultures. After exposure to NO, neurogenesis was downregulated, and this corresponded to decreased expression of the proneural gene neurogenin-2 and beta-III-tubulin. The decreased ability to generate neurons was also found to be transmitted to the progeny of the cells. NO exposure was instead beneficial for astroglial differentiation, which was confirmed by increased activation of the Janus tyrosine kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription transduction pathway. Our findings reveal a new role for NO during neuroinflammatory conditions, whereby its proastroglial fate-determining effect on neural stem cells might directly influence the neuroregenerative process.

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