Complement-derived anaphylatoxin C3a regulates in vitro differentiation and migration of neural progenitor cells

Stem Cells. 2009 Nov;27(11):2824-32. doi: 10.1002/stem.225.


Anaphylatoxin C3a is a third complement component (C3)-derived peptide, the multiple functions of which range from stimulation of inflammation to neuroprotection. In a previous study, we have shown that signaling through C3a receptor positively regulates in vivo neurogenesis in adult mouse brain. Here, we studied the direct effects of C3a on adult mouse whole brain-derived neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in vitro. Our results demonstrate that NPCs bind C3a in a specific and reversible manner and that C3a stimulates neuronal differentiation of NPCs. Furthermore, C3a stimulated the migration of NPCs induced by low concentrations of stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1alpha, whereas it inhibited NPC migration at high concentration of SDF-1alpha. In the same manner, C3a modulated SDF-1alpha-induced extracellular-signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation in these cells. In addition, C3a had inhibitory effect on SDF-1alpha-induced neuronal differentiation of NPCs. These data show that C3a modulates SDF-1alpha-induced differentiation and migration of these cells, conceivably through the regulation of ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Our results provide the first evidence that C3a regulates neurogenesis by directly affecting the fate and properties of NPCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / pharmacology
  • Complement C3a / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism


  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Immunologic Factors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Complement C3a
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3