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Estrogen promotes differentiation and survival of dopaminergic neurons derived from human neural stem cells



To investigate the effect of estrogen on neuronal differentiation, especially on dopaminergic (DA) neurons, human neural stem cells (NSCs) were differentiated in the presence of 17β-estradiol. NSCs gave rise to tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons in vitro, the proportion of which was increased by 17β-estradiol. Increase in TH-positive neurons was abrogated by an estrogen receptor (ER) antagonist, ICI182780, suggesting ERs play a role in differentiation of DA neurons. The observation that ERs were expressed in both proliferating NSCs and postmitotic DA neurons suggested that increase in TH-positive neurons was due to induction and support of DA neurons. 17β-Estradiol also increased the number of DA neurons derived from human NSCs in vivo when the cells were grafted into mouse brains. These results support a possible role for estrogen in the transplantation of NSCs for Parkinson's disease. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.