Sonic hedgehog controls the phenotypic fate and therapeutic efficacy of grafted neural precursor cells in a model of nigrostriatal neurodegeneration

Lalitha Madhavan, Brian F. Daley, Beverly L. Davidson, Ryan L. Boudreau, Jack W. Lipton, Allyson Cole-Strauss, Kathy Steece-Collier, Timothy J. Collier

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4 Scopus citations


The expression of soluble growth and survival promoting factors by neural precursor cells (NPCs) is suggested to be a prominent mechanism underlying the protective and regenerative effects of these cells after transplantation. Nevertheless, how and to what extent specific NPC-expressed factors contribute to therapeutic effects is not well understood. Using RNA silencing, the current study investigated the roles of two donor NPC molecules, namely glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and sonic hedgehog (SHH), in the protection of substantia nigra dopamine neurons in rats treated with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). Analyses indicate that as opposed to the knock-down of GDNF, SHH inhibition caused a profound decline in nigrostriatal neuroprotection. Further, SHH silencing also curbed endogenous neurogenesis and the migration of host brdU+/dcx+ neural precursors into the striatum, which was present in the animals receiving control or GDNF silenced NPCs. A change in graft phenotype, mainly reflected by a reduced proportion of undifferentiated nestin+ cells, as well as a significantly greater host microglial activity, suggested an important role for these processes in the attenuation of neuroprotection and neurogenesis upon SHH silencing. Overall these studies reveal core mechanisms fundamental to grafted NPC-based therapeutic effects, and delineate the particular contributions of two graftexpressed molecules, SHH and GDNF, in mediating midbrain dopamine neuron protection, and host plasticity after NPC transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0137136
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 4 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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