Abnormal Development of Neural Stem Cell Niche in the Dentate Gyrus of Menkes Disease

Int J Stem Cells. 2022 Aug 30;15(3):270-282. doi: 10.15283/ijsc21088. Epub 2022 Feb 28.


Background and objectives: Menkes disease (MNK) is a rare X-linked recessive disease, caused by mutations in the copper transporting ATP7A gene that is required for copper homeostasis. MNK patients experience various clinical symptoms including neurological defects that are closely related to the prognosis of MNK patients. Neural stem cells (NSCs) in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) produce new neurons throughout life, and defects in DG neurogenesis are often correlated with cognitive and behavioral problems. However, neurodevelopmental defects in the DG during postnatal period in MNK have not been understood yet.

Methods and results: Mottled-brindled (MoBr/y) mice (MNK mice) and littermate controls were used in this study. In vivo microCT imaging and immunohistochemistry results demonstrate that blood vasculatures in hippocampus are abnormally decreased in MNK mice. Furthermore, postnatal establishment of NSC population and their neurogenesis are severely compromised in the DG of MNK mice. In addition, in vitro analyses using hippocampal neurosphere culture followed by immunocytochemistry and immunoblotting suggest that neurogenesis from MNK NSCs is also significantly compromised, corresponding to defective neurogenic gene expression in MNK derived neurons.

Conclusions: Our study is the first reports demonstrating that improper expansion of the postnatal NSC population followed by significant reduction of neurogenesis may contribute to neurodevelopmental symptoms in MNK. In conclusion, our results provide new insight into early neurodevelopmental defects in MNK and emphasize the needs for early diagnosis and new therapeutic strategies in the postnatal central nerve system damage of MNK patients.

Keywords: ATP7A; Hippocampus; Menkes disease; Neural stem cell; Neurogenesis; Vascularization.