by Jian-Yong Qian, Michael Chopp, Zhongwu Liu
We reported that mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) enhance neurological recovery from experimental stroke and increase tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) expression in astrocytes. Here, we investigate mechanisms by which tPA mediates MSC enhanced axonal outgrowth. Primary murine neurons and astrocytes were isolated from wild-type (WT) and tPA-knockout (KO) cortices of embryos. Mouse MSCs (WT) were purchased from Cognate Inc. Neurons (WT or KO) were seeded in soma side of Xona microfluidic chambers, and astrocytes (WT or KO) and/or MSCs in axon side. The chambers were cultured as usual (normoxia) or subjected to oxygen deprivation. Primary neurons (seeded in plates) were co-cultured with astrocytes and/or MSCs (in inserts) for Western blot. In chambers, WT axons grew significantly longer than KO axons and exogenous tPA enhanced axonal outgrowth. MSCs increased WT axonal outgrowth alone and synergistically with WT astrocytes at both normoxia and oxygen deprivation conditions. The synergistic effect was inhibited by U0126, an ERK inhibitor, and receptor associated protein (RAP), a low density lipoprotein receptor related protein 1 (LRP1) ligand antagonist. However, MSCs exerted neither individual nor synergistic effects on KO axonal outgrowth. Western blot showed that MSCs promoted astrocytic tPA expression and increased neuronal tPA alone and synergistically with astrocytes. Also, MSCs activated neuronal ERK alone and synergistically with astrocytes, which was inhibited by RAP. We conclude: (1) MSCs promote axonal outgrowth via neuronal tPA and synergistically with astrocytic tPA; (2) neuronal tPA is critical to observe the synergistic effect of MSC and astrocytes on axonal outgrowth; and (3) tPA mediates MSC treatment-induced axonal outgrowth through the LRP1 receptor and ERK.