Microglia play a key role in the immune response and inflammatory reaction that occurs in response to ischemic stroke. Activated microglia promote neuronal damage or protection in injured brain tissue. Extracellular signals polarize the microglia towards the M1/M2 phenotype. The M1/M2 phenotype microglia released pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines which induce the activation of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs). In this study, we investigated how the cytokines released by microglia affect the activation of NSPCs. First, we treated BV2 cells with a lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 20 ng/ml) for M1 phenotype microglia and interleukin-4 (IL-4; 20 ng/ml) for M2 phenotype microglia in BV2 cells. Mice were subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO) for 1 h. In ex vivo, brain sections containing the subventricular zone (SVZ) were cultured in conditioned media of M1 and M2 phenotype-conditioned media for 3 d. We measured the expression of cytokines in the conditioned media by RT-PCR and ELISA. The M2 phenotype microglia-conditioned media led to the proliferation and neural differentiation of NSPCs in the ipsilateral SVZ after ischemic stroke. The RT-PCR and ELISA results showed that the expression of TGF-α mRNA was significantly higher in the M2 phenotype microglia-conditioned media. These data support that M2 phenotype microglia-derived TGF-α is one of the key factors to enhance proliferation and neural differntiation of NSPCs after ischemic stroke.
Keywords: Ischemic stroke; TGF-α; microglia; neural stem/progenitor cells; neuronal differentiation; proliferation.