Kudo TA, Kanetaka H, Mochizuki K, Tominami K, Nunome S, Abe G, Kosukegawa H, Abe T, Mori H, Mori K, Takagi T, Izumi S.
To promote the functional restoration of the nervous system following injury, it is necessary to provide optimal extracellular signals that can induce neuronal regenerative activities, particularly neurite formation. This study aimed to examine the regulation of neuritogenesis by temperature-controlled repeated thermal stimulation (TRTS) in rat PC12 pheochromocytoma cells, which can be induced by neurotrophic factors to differentiate into neuron-like cells with elongated neurites. A heating plate was used to apply thermal stimulation, and the correlation of culture medium temperature with varying surface temperature of the heating plate was monitored. Plated PC12 cells were exposed to TRTS at two different temperatures via heating plate (preset surface temperature of the heating plate, 39.5°C or 42°C) in growth or differentiating medium for up to 18 h per day. We then measured the extent of growth, neuritogenesis, or acetylcholine esterase (AChE) activity (a neuronal marker). To analyze the mechanisms underlying the effects of TRTS on these cells, we examined changes in intracellular signaling using the following: tropomyosin-related kinase A inhibitor GW441756; p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor SB203580; and MAPK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126 with its inactive analog, U0124, as a control. While a TRTS of 39.5°C did not decrease the growth rate of cells in the cell growth assay, it did increase the number of neurite-bearing PC12 cells and AChE activity without the addition of other neuritogenesis inducers. Furthermore, U0126, and SB203580, but not U0124 and GW441756, considerably inhibited TRTS-induced neuritogenesis. These results suggest that TRTS can induce neuritogenesis and that participation of both the ERK1/2 and p38 MAPK signaling pathways is required for TRTS-dependent neuritogenesis in PC12 cells. Thus, TRTS may be an effective technique for regenerative neuromedicine.