Expression of FGF-2 in neural progenitor cells enhances their potential for cellular brain repair in the rodent cortex.
Strategies to enhance the capacity of grafted stem/progenitors cells to generate multipotential, proliferative and migrating pools of cells in the postnatal brain could be crucial for structural repair after brain damage. We investigated whether the over-expression of basic fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) could provide a robust source of migrating NPCs for tissue repair in the rat cerebral cortex. Using live imaging we provide direct evidence that FGF-2 over-expression significantly enhances the migratory capacity of grafted NPCs in complex 3D structures, such as cortical slices. Furthermore, we show that the migratory as well as proliferative properties of FGF-2 over-expressing NPCs are maintained after in vivo transplantation. Importantly, after transplantation into a neonatal ischaemic cortex, FGF-2 over-expressing NPCs efficiently invade the injured cortex and generate an increased pool of immature neurons available for brain repair. Differentiation of progenitor cells into immature neurons was correlated with a gradual down-regulation of the FGF-2 transgene. These results reveal an important role for FGF-2 in regulating NPCs functions when interacting with the host tissue and offer a potential strategy to generate a robust source of migrating and immature progenitors for repairing a neonatal ischaemic cortex.