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Keywords:

  • Spinal cord regeneration;
  • Glucose metabolism;
  • Ependymal stem cells;
  • Pharmacology

Abstract

Spinal cord injury is a major cause of paralysis with no currently effective therapies. Induction of self-renewal and proliferation of endogenous regenerative machinery with noninvasive and nontoxic therapies could constitute a real hope and an alternative to cell transplantation for spinal cord injury patients. We previously showed that FM19G11 promotes differentiation of adult spinal cord-derived ependymal stem cells under hypoxia. Interestingly, FM19G11 induces self-renewal of these ependymal stem cells grown under normoxia. The analysis of the mechanism of action revealed an early increment of mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 and 2 with an early drop of ATP, followed by a subsequent compensatory recovery with activated mitochondrial metabolism and the induction of glucose uptake by upregulation of the glucose transporter GLUT-4. Here we show that phosphorylation of AKT and AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) is involved in FM19G11-dependent activation of GLUT-4, glucose influx, and consequently in stem cell self-renewal. Small interfering RNA of uncoupling protein 1/2, GLUT-4 and pharmacological inhibitors of AKT, mTOR and AMPK signaling blocked the FM19G11-dependent induction of the self-renewal-related markers Sox2, Oct4, and Notch1. Importantly, FM19G11-treated animals showed accelerated locomotor recovery. In vivo intrathecal sustained administration of FM19G11 in rats after spinal cord injury showed more neurofilament TUJ1-positive fibers crossing the injured area surrounded by an increase of neural precursor Vimentin-positive cells. Overall, FM19G11 exerts an important influence on the self-renewal of ependymal stem progenitor cells with a plausible neuroprotective role, providing functional benefits for spinal cord injury treatment. STEM Cells2012;30:2221–2233