Bilirubin as a determinant for altered neurogenesis, neuritogenesis, and synaptogenesis

Adelaide Fernandes, Ana Sofia Falcão, Elsa Abranches, Evguenia Bekman, Domingos Henrique, Lorene M. Lanier, Dora Brites

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Elevated levels of serum unconjugated bilirubin (UCB) in the first weeks of life may lead to long-term neurologic impairment. We previously reported that an early exposure of developing neurons to UCB, in conditions mimicking moderate to severe neonatal jaundice, leads to neuritic atrophy and cell death. Here, we have further analyzed the effect of UCB on nerve cell differentiation and neuronal development, addressing how UCB may affect the viability of undifferentiated neural precursor cells and their fate decisions, as well as the development of hippocampal neurons in terms of dendritic and axonal elongation and branching, the axonal growth cone morphology, and the establishment of dendritic spines and synapses. Our results indicate that UCB reduces the viability of proliferating neural precursors, decreases neurogenesis without affecting astrogliogenesis, and increases cellular dysfunction in differentiating cells. In addition, an early exposure of neurons to UCB decreases the number of dendritic and axonal branches at 3 and 9 days in vitro (DIV), and a higher number of neurons showed a smaller growth cone area. UCB-treated neurons also reveal a decreased density of dendritic spines and synapses at 21 DIV. Such deleterious role of UCB in neuronal differentiation, development, and plasticity may compromise the performance of the brain in later life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-582
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Neurobiology
Volume69
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2009

Keywords

  • Astrogliogenesis
  • Hippocampal neurons
  • Neuritic network
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neurospheres
  • Unconjugated bilirubin

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