VEGF-C is a trophic factor for neural progenitors in the vertebrate embryonic brain

Barbara Le Bras, Maria-Jose Barallobre, Jihane Homman-Ludiye, Annelii Ny, Sabine Wyns, Tuomas Tammela, Paula Haiko, Marika J Karkkainen, Li Yuan, Marie-Paule Muriel, Elli Chatzopoulou, Christiane Breant, Bernard Zalc, Peter Carmeliet, Kari Alitalo, Anne Eichmann, Jean-Leon Thomas

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140 Citations (Scopus)


Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) was first identified as a regulator of the vascular system, where it is required for the development of lymphatic vessels. Here we report actions of VEGF-C in the central nervous system. We detected the expression of the VEGF-C receptor VEGFR-3 in neural progenitor cells in Xenopus laevis and mouse embryos. In Xenopus tadpole VEGF-C knockdowns and in mice lacking Vegfc, the proliferation of neural progenitors expressing VEGFR-3 was severely reduced, in the absence of intracerebral blood vessel defects. In addition, Vegfc-deficient mouse embryos showed a selective loss of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) in the embryonic optic nerve. In vitro, VEGF-C stimulated the proliferation of OPCs expressing VEGFR-3 and nestin-positive ventricular neural cells. VEGF-C thus has a new, evolutionary conserved function as a growth factor selectively required by neural progenitor cells expressing its receptor VEGFR-3.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340 - 348
Number of pages9
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

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