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Targeted Knockdown of Bone Morphogenetic Protein Signaling within Neural Progenitors Protects the Brain and Improves Motor Function following Postnatal Hypoxia-Ischemia

Dettman, R. W.; Birch, D.; Fernando, A.; Kessler, J. A.; Dizon, M. L. V.

Dev Neurosci. 2018 Jan 13


Hypoxic-ischemic injury (HI) to the neonatal human brain results in myelin loss that, in some children, can manifest as cerebral palsy. Previously, we had found that neuronal overexpression of the bone morphogenic protein (BMP) inhibitor noggin during development increased oligodendroglia and improved motor function in an experimental model of HI utilizing unilateral common carotid artery ligation followed by hypoxia. As BMPs are known to negatively regulate oligodendroglial fate specification of neural stem cells and alter differentiation of committed oligodendroglia, BMP signaling is likely an important mechanism leading to myelin loss. Here, we showed that BMP signaling is upregulated within oligodendroglia of the neonatal brain. We tested the hypothesis that inhibition of BMP signaling specifically within neural progenitor cells (NPCs) is sufficient to protect oligodendroglia. We conditionally deleted the BMP receptor 2 subtype (BMPR2) in NG2-expressing cells after HI. We found that BMPR2 deletion globally protects the brain as assessed by MRI and protects motor function as assessed by digital gait analysis, and that conditional deletion of BMPR2 maintains oligodendrocyte marker expression by immunofluorescence and Western blot and prevents loss of oligodendroglia. Finally, BMPR2 deletion after HI results in an increase in noncompacted myelin. Thus, our data indicate that inhibition of BMP signaling specifically in NPCs may be a tractable strategy to protect the newborn brain from HI.

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