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Mol Pharmacol. 2009 Aug;76(2):314-26. doi: 10.1124/mol.109.057307. Epub 2009 Jun 1.

alpha1-Adrenergic receptors regulate neurogenesis and gliogenesis.

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Department of Molecular Cardiology, NB50, the Lerner Research Institute, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


The understanding of the function of alpha(1)-adrenergic receptors in the brain has been limited due to a lack of specific ligands and antibodies. We circumvented this problem by using transgenic mice engineered to overexpress either wild-type receptor tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein or constitutively active mutant alpha(1)-adrenergic receptor subtypes in tissues in which they are normally expressed. We identified intriguing alpha(1A)-adrenergic receptor subtype-expressing cells with a migratory morphology in the adult subventricular zone that coexpressed markers of neural stem cell and/or progenitors. Incorporation of 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine in vivo increased in neurogenic areas in adult alpha(1A)-adrenergic receptor transgenic mice or normal mice given the alpha(1A)-adrenergic receptor-selective agonist, cirazoline. Neonatal neurospheres isolated from normal mice expressed a mixture of alpha(1)-adrenergic receptor subtypes, and stimulation of these receptors resulted in increased expression of the alpha(1B)-adrenergic receptor subtype, proneural basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, and the differentiation and migration of neuronal progenitors for catecholaminergic neurons and interneurons. alpha(1)-Adrenergic receptor stimulation increased the apoptosis of astrocytes and regulated survival of neonatal neurons through phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling. However, in adult normal neurospheres, alpha(1)-adrenergic receptor stimulation increased the expression of glial markers at the expense of neuronal differentiation. In vivo, S100-positive glial and betaIII tubulin neuronal progenitors colocalized with either alpha(1)-adrenergic receptor subtype in the olfactory bulb. Our results indicate that alpha(1)-adrenergic receptors can regulate both neurogenesis and gliogenesis that may be developmentally dependent. Our findings may lead to new therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

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