Hypoxia stimulates neural stem cell proliferation by increasing HIF-1α expression and activating Wnt/β-catenin signaling

C. Qi, J. Zhang, X. Chen, J. Wan, J. Wang, P. Zhang, Y. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Evidence indicates that after brain injury, neurogenesis is enhanced in regions such as hippocampus, striatum, and cortex. To study the role of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1α) and Wnt signaling in cerebral ischemia/hypoxia-induced proliferation of neural stem cells (NSCs), we investigated the proliferation of NSCs, expression of HIF-1α, and activation of Wnt signaling under conditions of pathologic hypoxia in vitro. NSCs were isolated from 30-day-old Sprague-Dawley rats and subjected to 0.3% oxygen in a microaerophilic incubation system. Cell proliferation was evaluated by measuring the diameter of neurospheres and by bromodeoxyuridine incorporation assays. Real-time quantitative PCR and Western blotting were used to detect mRNA and protein levels of HIF-1α, β-catenin, and cyclin D1 in the NSCs. The results showed that hypoxia increased NSC proliferation and the levels of HIF-1α, β-catenin, and cyclin D1 (p < 0.05). Blockade of the Wnt signaling pathway decreased hypoxia-induced NSC proliferation, whereas activation of this pathway increased hypoxia-induced NSC proliferation (p < 0.05). Knockdown of HIF-1α with HIF-1α siRNA decreased β-catenin nuclear translocation and cyclin D1 expression, and inhibited proliferation of NSCs (p < 0.05). These findings indicate that pathologic hypoxia stimulates NSC proliferation by increasing expression of HIF-1α and activating the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. The data suggest that Wnt/β-catenin signaling may play a key role in NSC proliferation under conditions of pathologic hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalCellular and Molecular Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2017


  • Hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha
  • Neural stem cells
  • Neurogenesis
  • Wnt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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