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PeerJ. 2018 Sep 4;6:e5524. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5524. eCollection 2018.

GDF11 induces differentiation and apoptosis and inhibits migration of C17.2 neural stem cells via modulating MAPK signaling pathway.

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Institute of Blood Transfusion, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.


GDF11, a member of TGF-β superfamily, has recently received widespread attention as a novel anti-ageing/rejuvenation factor to reverse age-related dysfunctions in heart and skeletal muscle, and to induce angiogenesis and neurogenesis. However, these positive effects of GDF11 were challenged by several other studies. Furthermore, the mechanism is still not well understood. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of GDF11 on C17.2 neural stem cells. GDF11 induced differentiation and apoptosis, and suppressed migration of C17.2 neural stem cells. In addition, GDF11 slightly increased cell viability after 24 h treatment, showed no effects on proliferation for about 10 days of cultivation, and slightly decreased cumulative population doubling for long-term treatment (p < 0.05). Phospho-proteome profiling array displayed that GDF11 significantly increased the phosphorylation of 13 serine/threonine kinases (p < 0.01), including p-p38, p-ERK and p-Akt, in C17.2 cells, which implied the activation of MAPK pathway. Western blot validated that the results of phospho-proteome profiling array were reliable. Based on functional analysis, we demonstrated that the differentially expressed proteins were mainly involved in signal transduction which was implicated in cellular behavior. Collectively, our findings suggest that, for neurogenesis, GDF11 might not be the desired rejuvenation factor, but a potential target for pharmacological blockade.


Apoptosis; C17.2 neural stem cells; Differentiation; Growth differentiation factor 11; MAPK signaling pathway; Migration

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