Sertoli cells (SCs), which are recognized as the "nurse cells" of the testis due to their important biofunctions, have been used in cotransplantation with neurons in cell therapy. However, it is not clear whether SCs influence neuronal communication and survival. In this study, we showed that approximately 60% of cortical neural stem cells (NSCs) cocultured with SCs differentiated into mature neurons. In addition, the neurite outgrowth and neuronal survival rates were significantly enhanced in the coculture system compared with differentiated neurons induced by a differentiation medium. The neuroleukin (NLK) secretion of SCs was also identified at the RNA and protein level, and the roles of NLK in neuromorphology and physiological regulation were systematically investigated for the first time. These results not only highlight the significance of paracrine regulation of NSCs by SCs but also confirm the role NLK plays in the differentiation and survival of NSCs. Finally, we proposed a possible hypothesis for the mechanism of NLK in the growth and survival of SC-induced neurons based on Western blotting results, which is that NLK secreted by SCs activates the Ras/Raf/MEK/Erk, Jak/Stat, and PI3K/Akt pathways, but not the NF-kB pathway, in neurons resulting in their growth and survival.
- cortical neural stem cells (NSCs)
- neurite outgrowth
- neuroleukin (NLK)
- neuron differentiation
- sertoli cells (SCs)