Microglia induce neurogenic protein expression in primary cortical cells by stimulating PI3K/AKT intracellular signaling in vitro

Kristi Lorenzen, Nicholas W. Mathy, Erin R. Whiteford, Alex Eischeid, Jing Chen, Matthew Behrens, Xian Ming Chen, Annemarie Shibata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Emerging evidence suggests that microglia can support neurogenesis. Little is known about the mechanisms by which microglia regulate the cortical environment and stimulate cortical neurogenesis. We used an in vitro co-culture model system to investigate the hypothesis that microglia respond to soluble signals from cortical cells, particularly following mechanical injury, to alter the cortical environment and promote cortical cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Analyses of cortical cell proliferation, cell death, neurogenic protein expression, and intracellular signaling were performed on uninjured and injured cortical cells in co-culture with microglial cell lines. Microglia soluble cues enhanced cortical cell viability and proliferation cortical cells. Co-culture of injured cortical cells with microglia significantly reduced cell death of cortical cells. Microglial co-culture significantly increased Nestin + and α-internexin + cortical cells. Multiplex ELISA and RT-PCR showed decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine production by microglia co-cultured with injured cortical cells. Inhibition of AKT phosphorylation in cortical cells blocked microglial-enhanced cortical cell viability and expression of neurogenic markers in vitro. This in vitro model system allows for assessment of the effect of microglial-derived soluble signals on cortical cell viability, proliferation, and stages of differentiation during homeostasis or following mechanical injury. These data suggest that microglia cells can downregulate inflammatory cytokine production following activation by mechanical injury to enhance proliferation of new cells capable of neurogenesis via activation of AKT intracellular signaling. Increasing our understanding of the mechanisms that drive microglial-enhanced cortical neurogenesis during homeostasis and following injury in vitro will provide useful information for future primary cell and in vivo studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-584
Number of pages22
JournalMolecular biology reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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