Nestin-CreER mice reveal DNA synthesis by nonapoptotic neurons following cerebral ischemia hypoxia

Cereb Cortex. 2007 Nov;17(11):2585-92. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhl164. Epub 2007 Jan 27.


The standard method of detecting neurogenesis uses bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to label DNA synthesis followed by double labeling with neuronal markers. However, DNA synthesis may occur in events unrelated to neurogenesis including aneuploidy and abortive cell cycle reentry. Hence, it is important to confirm neurogenesis with methods other than BrdU incorporation. To this end, we have generated transgenic nestin-CreER mice that express tamoxifen-inducible Cre recombinase under the control of a nestin enhancer. When crossed with a ubiquitous Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (EGFP)-Cre-reporter line, the bitransgenic animals can reveal the nestin-positive progenitors and their progeny with EGFP after tamoxifen induction. This system has many applications including visualization of embryonic neural progenitors, detection of postnatally transformed radial glial cells, and labeling adult neural progenitors in the subventricular zone (SVZ). To examine the contribution of SVZ progenitors to cell replacement after stroke, tamoxifen-induced mice were challenged with focal ischemia or combined ischemia-hypoxia followed by BrdU injection. This analysis revealed only very few EGFP-positive cells outside the SVZ after focal ischemia but robust DNA synthesis by hippocampal neurons without immediate cell death following ischemia-hypoxia. These results suggest that the nestin-CreER system is a useful tool for detecting embryonic and adult neurogensis. They also confirm the existence of nonproliferative DNA synthesis by old neurons after experimental brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • DNA / biosynthesis*
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / metabolism*
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / genetics
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nestin
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nes protein, mouse
  • Nestin
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • DNA