Aberrant astrocyte protein secretion contributes to altered neuronal development in multiple models of neurodevelopmental disorders

Nat Neurosci. 2022 Sep;25(9):1163-1178. doi: 10.1038/s41593-022-01150-1. Epub 2022 Aug 30.


Astrocytes negatively impact neuronal development in many models of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs); however, how they do this, and if mechanisms are shared across disorders, is not known. In this study, we developed a cell culture system to ask how astrocyte protein secretion and gene expression change in three mouse models of genetic NDs (Rett, Fragile X and Down syndromes). ND astrocytes increase release of Igfbp2, a secreted inhibitor of insulin-like growth factor (IGF). IGF rescues neuronal deficits in many NDs, and we found that blocking Igfbp2 partially rescues inhibitory effects of Rett syndrome astrocytes, suggesting that increased astrocyte Igfbp2 contributes to decreased IGF signaling in NDs. We identified that increased BMP signaling is upstream of protein secretion changes, including Igfbp2, and blocking BMP signaling in Fragile X and Rett syndrome astrocytes reverses inhibitory effects on neurite outgrowth. This work provides a resource of astrocyte-secreted proteins in health and ND models and identifies novel targets for intervention in diverse NDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / genetics
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / metabolism
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rett Syndrome* / metabolism