Stroke is a major medical problem, with only very limited treatment options. In a study appearing online on July 7 in advance of print publication of the August 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Armin Schneider and colleagues from Axaron Biosciences describe new roles for granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in treating stroke and other central nervous system roles of this protein.
The team reports that G-CSF has potent cell protective effects on mature neurons, explaining why it has been shown to be useful in animal stroke models. Moreover, G-CSF drives neuronal differentiation of adult neural stem cells in the brain, and has profound impact on long-term functional outcome after cerebral ischemia. The authors show that G-CSF itself is a neuronally expressed protein in the brain, and that systemic G-CSF can penetrate the intact blood-brain-barrier.
Thus, G-CSF is a potentially novel treatment for stroke and neurodegeneration. G-CSF doubles hippocampal neurogenesis even in normal, non-ischemic animals, making it a potential drug candidate for diseases where disturbances in neurogenesis are a factor.