Damage to the cholinergic system in central nervous system injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and neurodegenerative diseases leads to impaired learning and cognition. Neural stem cells (NSCs) have self-renewal capacity and multi-directional differentiation potential and considered the best source of cells for cell replacement therapy. However, how to promote the differentiation of NSCs into neurons is a major challenge in current research. Lhx8 has a specific effect on the development of the cholinergic nervous system, but its exact function is unclear. In this study, we found that Lhx8 could regulate the expression of Growth arrest-specific (GAS)5 which has been implicated in cancer but was less studied in the nervous system. Additionally, results from PCR, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and immunocytochemical analyses showed that GAS5 is mainly expressed in the cytoplasm of hippocampal neural stems cells and promotes their differentiation into neurons; the Morris water maze test demonstrated that GAS5 overexpression restored learning and memory in rats with cholinergic injury. These findings indicate that GAS5, which is regulated by Lhx8, improve brain function following cholinergic nerve injury.Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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