Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

G-CSF protects motoneurons against axotomy-induced apoptotic death in neonatal mice

Alexandre Henriques123, Claudia Pitzer1*, Luc Dupuis23 and Armin Schneider1*

Author affiliations

1 SYGNIS Bioscience, Im Neuenheimer Feld 515, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

2 University of Strasbourg, Faculty of Medicine, UMRS692, Strasbourg, France

3 INSERM U692, Strasbourg, France

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-25

Published: 23 February 2010

Abstract

Background

Granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) is a growth factor essential for generation of neutrophilic granulocytes. Apart from this hematopoietic function, we have recently uncovered potent neuroprotective and regenerative properties of G-CSF in the central nervous system (CNS). The G-CSF receptor and G-CSF itself are expressed in α motoneurons, G-CSF protects motoneurons, and improves outcome in the SOD1(G93A) transgenic mouse model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In vitro, G-CSF acts anti-apoptotically on motoneuronal cells. Due to the pleiotrophic effects of G-CSF and the complexity of the SOD1 transgenic ALS models it was however not possible to clearly distinguish between directly mediated anti-apoptotic and indirectly protective effects on motoneurons. Here we studied whether G-CSF is able to protect motoneurons from purely apoptotic cell death induced by a monocausal paradigm, neonatal sciatic nerve axotomy.

Results

We performed sciatic nerve axotomy in neonatal mice overexpressing G-CSF in the CNS and found that G-CSF transgenic mice displayed significantly higher numbers of surviving lumbar motoneurons 4 days following axotomy than their littermate controls. Also, surviving motoneurons in G-CSF overexpressing animals were larger, suggesting additional trophic effects of this growth factor.

Conclusions

In this model of pure apoptotic cell death the protective effects of G-CSF indicate direct actions of G-CSF on motoneurons in vivo. This shows that G-CSF exerts potent anti-apoptotic activities towards motoneurons in vivo and suggests that the protection offered by G-CSF in ALS mouse models is due to its direct neuroprotective activity.