Mice lacking NT-3, and its receptor TrkC, exhibit profound deficiencies in CNS glial cells.
ABSTRACT Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and its receptor TrkC are known to be important for neuronal survival. More recently, NT-3 has been implicated as playing a role in oligodendrocyte (OL) proliferation and survival in vitro. Examination of NT-3 and TrkC knockout mice revealed a reduction in NT-3-dependent neurons. To date, no study has examined alterations in glial cell populations in these knockout mice. In this report, we demonstrate a decline in OL progenitor cell numbers within the CNS of NT-3 and TrkC knockout mice. We also observed that immature and mature OL-specific markers were attenuated in the NT-3 and TrkC knockout animals. Deficiencies in other CNS glial cells, including astrocytes and ameboid microglia, were also observed. The subventricular zone (SVZ), a highly proliferative region for progenitor glial cells, was reduced in size. Furthermore, a nuclear-specific stain revealed a decline in the numbers of pyknotic nuclei in and around the SVZ of the knockout mice. These data will support an in vivo NT-3-dependent mechanism for the normal development of CNS glial cells.