Neuropoietic cytokines are known to play crucial roles in neuronal development. Among them, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) has been implicated in various processes of neuronal development, such as neuronal differentiation, survival and neurogenesis. Moreover, LIF is highly expressed in regions of the central nervous system where adult neurogenesis occurs. LIF was tested for its efficacy in promoting postnatal neurogenesis using LIF-null mice and dissociated cultures of early postnatal rat olfactory sensory neurons. Our results indicate that LIF promoted proliferation of olfactory sensory neuron precursors both in vivo and in vitro. In addition, LIF did not affect proliferation of non-neuronal cells. LIF may therefore be useful when developing stem cell therapy to replace damaged olfactory sensory neurons as well as a therapeutic agent to treat some anosmic symptoms.
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