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Keywords:

  • glutamate;
  • neural stem cells;
  • neurogenesis;
  • progenitor cell;
  • α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate

Abstract

Ampakines are chemical compounds known to modulate the properties of ionotropic α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA)-subtype glutamate receptors. The functional effects attributed to ampakines involve plasticity and the increase in synaptic efficiency of neuronal circuits, a process that may be intimately associated with differentiation of newborn neurons. The subventricular zone (SVZ) is the main neurogenic niche of the brain, containing neural stem cells with brain repair potential. Accordingly, the identification of new pharmaceutical compounds with neurogenesis-enhancing properties is important as a tool to promote neuronal replacement based on the use of SVZ cells. The purpose of the present paper is to examine the possible proneurogenic effects of ampakine CX546 in cell cultures derived from the SVZ of early postnatal mice. We observed that CX546 (50 μm) treatment triggered an increase in proliferation, evaluated by BrdU incorporation assay, in the neuroblast lineage. Moreover, by using a cell viability assay (TUNEL) we found that, in contrast to AMPA, CX546 did not cause cell death. Also, both AMPA and CX546 stimulated neuronal differentiation as evaluated morphologically through neuronal nuclear protein (NeuN) immunocytochemistry and functionally by single-cell calcium imaging. Accordingly, short exposure to CX546 increased axonogenesis, as determined by the number and length of tau-positive axons co-labelled for the phosphorylated form of SAPK/JNK (P-JNK), and dendritogenesis (MAP2-positive neurites). Altogether, this study shows that ampakine CX546 promotes neurogenesis in SVZ cell cultures and thereby may have potential for future stem cell-based therapies.