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Proliferative neural stem cells have high endogenous ROS levels that regulate self-renewal and neurogenesis in a PI3K/Akt-dependant manner.

Cell Stem Cell 8(1):59 (2011) PMID 21211782 PMCID PMC3018289

The majority of research on reactive oxygen species (ROS) has focused on their cellular toxicities. Stem cells generally have been thought to maintain low levels of ROS as a protection against these processes. However, recent studies suggest that ROS can also play roles as second messengers, activating normal cellular processes. Here, we investigated ROS function in primary brain-derived neural progenitors. Somewhat surprisingly, we found that proliferative, self-renewing multipotent neural progenitors with the phenotypic characteristics of neural stem cells (NSC) maintained a high ROS status and were highly responsive to ROS stimulation. ROS-mediated enhancements in self-renewal and neurogenesis were dependent on PI3K/Akt signaling. Pharmacological or genetic manipulations that diminished cellular ROS levels also interfered with normal NSC and/or multipotent progenitor function both in vitro and in vivo. This study has identified a redox-mediated regulatory mechanism of NSC function that may have significant implications for brain injury, disease, and repair. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2010.11.028