The purpose of this study was to investigate the ability of astrocyte-derived factors to influence neural progenitor cell differentiation. We previously demonstrated that rat adult hippocampal progenitor cells (AHPCs) immunoreactive for the neuronal marker, class III β-tubulin (TUJ1) were significantly increased in the presence of astrocyte-derived soluble factors under non-contact co-culture conditions. Using whole cell patch clamp analysis, we observed that the co-cultured AHPCs displayed two prominent voltage-gated conductances - tetraethyl ammonium (TEA)- sensitive outward currents and fast transient inward currents. The outward and inward current densities of the co-cultured AHPCs were approximately 2.5-fold and 1.7-fold greater, respectively, than those of cells cultured alone. These results suggest that astrocyte-derived soluble factors induce neuronal commitment of AHPCs. To further investigate the activity of a candidate neurogenic factor on AHPC differentiation, we cultured AHPCs in the presence or absence of purified rat recombinant interleukin-6 (IL-6). We also confirmed that the astrocytes used in this study produced IL-6 by ELISA and RT-qPCR. When AHPCs were cultured with IL-6 for 6-7 days, the TUJ1-immunoreactive AHPCs and the average length of TUJ1-immunoreactive neurites were significantly increased, compared to the cells cultured without IL-6. Moreover, IL-6 increased the inward current density to a comparable extent as did co-culture with astrocytes, with no significant differences in the outward current density, apparent resting potential, or cell capacitance. These results suggest that astrocyte-derived IL-6 may facilitate AHPC neuronal differentiation. Our findings have important implications for understanding injury-induced neurogenesis and developing cell-based therapeutic strategies using neural progenitors.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/marit-nilsen-hamilton/28/