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      Interleukin-15 regulates proliferation and self-renewal of adult neural stem cells

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          The role of IL-15 in the regulation of neural stem cell biology appears as a key mechanism in the control of adult neurogenesis, with direct implications for the development of pathologies with a neuroimmune component.


          The impact of inflammation is crucial for the regulation of the biology of neural stem cells (NSCs). Interleukin-15 (IL-15) appears as a likely candidate for regulating neurogenesis, based on its well-known mitogenic properties. We show here that NSCs of the subventricular zone (SVZ) express IL-15, which regulates NSC proliferation, as evidenced by the study of IL-15−/− mice and the effects of acute IL-15 administration, coupled to 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine/5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine dual-pulse labeling. Moreover, IL-15 regulates NSC differentiation, its deficiency leading to an impaired generation of neuroblasts in the SVZ–rostral migratory stream axis, recoverable through the action of exogenous IL-15. IL-15 expressed in cultured NSCs is linked to self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation. IL-15–/– NSCs presented deficient proliferation and self-renewal, as evidenced in proliferation and colony-forming assays and the analysis of cell cycle–regulatory proteins. Moreover, IL-15–deficient NSCs were more prone to differentiate than wild-type NSCs, not affecting the cell population balance. Lack of IL-15 led to a defective activation of the JAK/STAT and ERK pathways, key for the regulation of proliferation and differentiation of NSCs. The results show that IL-15 is a key regulator of neurogenesis in the adult and is essential to understanding diseases with an inflammatory component.

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          Most cited references 59

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          Inflammatory blockade restores adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

          Cranial radiation therapy causes a progressive decline in cognitive function that is linked to impaired neurogenesis. Chronic inflammation accompanies radiation injury, suggesting that inflammatory processes may contribute to neural stem cell dysfunction. Here, we show that neuroinflammation alone inhibits neurogenesis and that inflammatory blockade with indomethacin, a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, restores neurogenesis after endotoxin-induced inflammation and augments neurogenesis after cranial irradiation.
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            Subventricular zone astrocytes are neural stem cells in the adult mammalian brain.

            Neural stem cells reside in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the adult mammalian brain. This germinal region, which continually generates new neurons destined for the olfactory bulb, is composed of four cell types: migrating neuroblasts, immature precursors, astrocytes, and ependymal cells. Here we show that SVZ astrocytes, and not ependymal cells, remain labeled with proliferation markers after long survivals in adult mice. After elimination of immature precursors and neuroblasts by an antimitotic treatment, SVZ astrocytes divide to generate immature precursors and neuroblasts. Furthermore, in untreated mice, SVZ astrocytes specifically infected with a retrovirus give rise to new neurons in the olfactory bulb. Finally, we show that SVZ astrocytes give rise to cells that grow into multipotent neurospheres in vitro. We conclude that SVZ astrocytes act as neural stem cells in both the normal and regenerating brain.
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              Inflammation is detrimental for neurogenesis in adult brain.

              New hippocampal neurons are continuously generated in the adult brain. Here, we demonstrate that lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation, which gives rise to microglia activation in the area where the new neurons are born, strongly impairs basal hippocampal neurogenesis in rats. The increased neurogenesis triggered by a brain insult is also attenuated if it is associated with microglia activation caused by tissue damage or lipopolysaccharide infusion. The impaired neurogenesis in inflammation is restored by systemic administration of minocycline, which inhibits microglia activation. Our data raise the possibility that suppression of hippocampal neurogenesis by activated microglia contributes to cognitive dysfunction in aging, dementia, epilepsy, and other conditions leading to brain inflammation.

                Author and article information

                Role: Monitoring Editor
                Mol Biol Cell
                Mol. Bio. Cell
                Molecular Biology of the Cell
                The American Society for Cell Biology
                15 June 2011
                : 22
                : 12
                : 1960-1970
                aFunctional and Systems Neurobiology Department, Cajal Institute (CSIC), Madrid, Spain
                bExperimental Neurology Unit, National Hospital of Paraplegics (SESCAM), Toledo, Spain
                Ludwig Institure for Cancer Research
                Author notes
                *Address correspondence to: Diego Gómez-Nicola ( dgomeznicola@ ).
                © 2011 Gómez-Nicola et al. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (

                “ASCB®,” “The American Society for Cell Biology®,” and “Molecular Biology of the Cell®” are registered trademarks of The American Society of Cell Biology.

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