New roles of NCX in glial cells: Activation of microglia in ischemia and differentiation of oligodendrocytes

Francesca Boscia, Carla D'Avanzo, Anna Pannaccione, Agnese Secondo, Antonella Casamassa, Luigi Formisano, Natascia Guida, Antonella Scorziello, Gianfranco Di Renzo, Lucio Annunziato

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The initiation of microglial responses to the ischemic injury involves modifications of calcium homeostasis. Changes in [Ca2+]i levels have also been shown to influence the developmental processes that accompany the transition of human oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) into mature myelinating oligodendrocytes and are required for the initiation of myelination and remyelination processes. We investigated the regional and temporal changes of NCX1 protein in microglial cells of the peri-infarct and core regions after permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). Interestingly, 3 and 7 days after pMCAO, NCX1 signal strongly increased in the round-shaped microglia invading the infarct core. Cultured microglial cells from the core displayed increased NCX1 expression as compared with contralateral cells and showed enhanced NCX activity in the reverse mode of operation. Similarly, NCX activity and NCX1 protein expression were significantly enhanced in BV2 microglia exposed to oxygen and glucose deprivation, whereas NCX2 and NCX3 were downregulated. Interestingly, in NCX1-silenced cells, [Ca 2+]i increase induced by hypoxia was completely prevented. The upregulation of NCX1 expression and activity observed in microglia after pMCAO suggests a relevant role of NCX1 in modulating microglia functions in the postischemic brain. Next, we explored whether calcium signals mediated by NCX1, NCX2, or NCX3 play a role in oligodendrocyte maturation. Functional studies, as well as mRNA and protein expression analyses, revealed that NCX1 and NCX3, but not NCX2, were divergently modulated during OPC differentiation into oligodendrocyte. In fact, while NCX1 was downregulated, NCX3 was strongly upregulated during the oligodendrocyte development. Whereas the knocking down of the NCX3 isoform in OPCs prevented the upregulation of the myelin protein markers CNPase and MBP, its overexpression induced their upregulation. Furthermore, NCX3 knockout mice exhibited not only a reduced size of spinal cord but also a marked hypomyelination, as revealed by the decrease in MBP expression and by the accompanying increase in OPCs number. Our findings indicate that calcium signaling mediated by NCX3 plays a crucial role in oligodendrocyte maturation and myelin formation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)00652598


  • Ca regulation
  • Ca transport
  • Cardiac pacemaking
  • Excitation-contraction coupling
  • Na transport
  • Na/Ca exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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