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Abstract

The adult rodent brain is capable of generating neuronal progenitor cells in the subventricular zone, and in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, throughout the life of the animal. Signals that regulate progenitor cell proliferation, differentiation, and migration are not well known. We report that administration of a nitric oxide donor, (Z)-1-[N-(2-aminoethyl)-N-(2-ammonioethyl) aminio]diazen-1-ium-1,2-diolate (DETA/NONOate), to young adult rats significantly increases cell proliferation and migration in the subventricular zone and the dentate gyrus. Treatment with DETA/NONOate also increases neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus. Furthermore, administration of DETA/NONOate to rats subjected to embolic middle cerebral artery occlusion significantly increases cell proliferation and migration in the subventricular zone and the dentate gyrus, and these rats exhibit significant improvements of neurological outcome during recovery from ischemic stroke. Administration of DETA/NONOate significantly increases cortical levels of guanosine monophosphate both in ischemic and nonischemic rats, supporting the role of nitric oxide in promoting cell proliferation and neurogenesis. Thus, our data indicate that nitric oxide is involved in the regulation of progenitor cells and neurogenesis in the adult brain. This suggests that nitric oxide delivered to the brain well after stroke may have therapeutic benefits.