Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dong Sun


Effect of Manipulation of Notch Signaling Pathway on Neural Stem Cell Proliferation in the Hippocampus Following Traumatic Brain Injury

By Seung L. Kim A thesis statement submitted for degree requirement in Mater of Science Virginia Commonwealth University, 2019 Advisor: Dong Sun, MD. PhD. Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology

The Notch signaling pathway is known as a core signaling system in maintaining neural stem cells (NSCs) in embryonic development and adulthood including cell proliferation, maturation, and cell fate decision. Proliferation of NSCs persists throughout lifespan in neurogenic niches and is often upregulated following neurological insults including traumatic brain injury (TBI). Therefore, NSCs are viewed as the brain’s endogenous source for repair and regeneration. We speculate Notch signaling pathway is also involved in injury-induced cell proliferation in the neurogenic niche following TBI. TBI, which is a leading cause of death and disability, has been a huge burden to our society. Many efforts have been made in attempt to treat and manage TBI.

In this study, we examined the involvement of Notch signaling pathway in injury induced NSC proliferation in the neurogenic niche, by administering exogenous Notch ligands including, Notch agonist or antagonist. Adult rats were intraventricularly infused with Notch1 receptor agonists (anti-Notch1 antibody at the dose of 0.5, 2 or 4μg/ml), Notch1 receptor antagonist (recombinant Jagged1 fusion protein at the dose of 25, 50 or 100μg/ml) or vehicle for 7 days following TBI. 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) was administered single daily via intraperitoneal injection to label proliferating cells for 7 days post injury. The animals were sacrificed on the 7th day at 2 hours after the last BrdU injection. Sequential vibratome sliced coronal brain sections were processed for proliferation marker BrdU, Ki67 or immature neuronal marker DCX staining. BrdU, Ki67 or DCX-labeled cells in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus were quantified using unbiased stereological method. We found TBI in the form of moderate lateral fluid percussion injury (LFPI) induced cell proliferation was further augmented by 7-day infusion of Notch agonist (Notch1-2μg/ml) as shown by BrdU and Ki67 labeling. Further, 7-day infusion of Notch antagonist (Jagged1-50μg/ml) post-injury greatly reduced the number of BrdU+ cells. However, ambiguous dose related responses were also observed where 7-day infusion of higher dose of Notch agonist (Notch1-4μg/ml) resulted in reduced cell proliferation. No major changes in the numbers of newly generated neurons were observed across the animals, except a slight reduction in Notch agonist (Notch1-2μg/ml) and Notch antagonist (Jagged1-50μg/ml) infused animals as shown by DCX labeling. Infusion of Notch agonist or antagonist affects NSC proliferation following TBI suggesting the involvement of Notch signaling pathway in regulating post-TBI NSC proliferation in the neurogenic niche. For the unexpected opposite results of higher dosing of Notch 1 agonist, the presence of other Notch receptors regulating NSC in the neurogenic niche should be considered. Future studies involving selective manipulation of these Notch receptors and their downstream effectors would clear some results.


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