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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 646595, 10 pages
Research Article

The MMP-1/PAR-1 Axis Enhances Proliferation and Neuronal Differentiation of Adult Hippocampal Neural Progenitor Cells

1Laboratory of Neuroplasticity, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Piemonte Orientale “Amedeo Avogadro”, 28100 Novara, Italy
2Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20057, USA

Received 19 June 2015; Revised 13 August 2015; Accepted 6 September 2015

Academic Editor: Fabienne Agasse

Copyright © 2015 Maria Maddalena Valente et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are zinc-dependent endopeptidases that play a role in varied forms of developmental and postnatal neuroplasticity. MMP substrates include protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR-1), a G-protein coupled receptor expressed in hippocampus. We examined proliferation and differentiation of adult neural progenitor cells (aNPCs) from hippocampi of mice that overexpress the potent PAR-1 agonist MMP-1. We found that, as compared to aNPCs from littermate controls, MMP-1 tg aNPCs display enhanced proliferation. Under differentiating conditions, these cells give rise to a higher percentage of MAP-2+ neurons and a reduced number of oligodendrocyte precursors, and no change in the number of astrocytes. The fact that these results are MMP and PAR-1 dependent is supported by studies with distinct antagonists. Moreover, JSH-23, an inhibitor of NF-κB p65 nuclear translocation, counteracted both the proliferation and differentiation changes seen in MMP-1 tg-derived NPCs. In complementary studies, we found that the percentage of Sox2+ undifferentiated progenitor cells is increased in hippocampi of MMP-1 tg animals, compared to wt mice. Together, these results add to a growing body of data suggesting that MMPs are effectors of hippocampal neuroplasticity in the adult CNS and that the MMP-1/PAR-1 axis may play a role in neurogenesis following physiological and/or pathological stimuli.