Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a 36 amino acid peptide widely present in the CNS, including the retina. Previous studies have demonstrated that NPY promotes cell proliferation of rat post-natal hippocampal and olfactory epithelium precursor cells. The aim of this work was to investigate the role of NPY on cell proliferation of rat retinal neural cells. For this purpose, primary retinal cell cultures expressing NPY, and NPY Y1, Y2, Y4 and Y5 receptors [Álvaro et al., (2007) Neurochem. Int., 50, 757] were used. NPY (10–1000 nM) stimulated cell proliferation through the activation of NPY Y1, Y2 and Y5 receptors. NPY also increased the number of proliferating neuronal progenitor cells (BrdU+/nestin+ cells). The intracellular mechanisms coupled to NPY receptors activation that mediate the increase in cell proliferation were also investigated. The stimulatory effect of NPY on cell proliferation was reduced by l-nitroarginine-methyl-esther (l-NAME; 500 μM), a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo-[4, 3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ; 20 μM), a soluble guanylyl cyclase inhibitor or U0126 (1 μM), an inhibitor of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2). In conclusion, NPY stimulates retinal neural cell proliferation, and this effect is mediated through nitric oxide–cyclic GMP and ERK 1/2 pathways.
J. Neurochem. (2008) 105, 2501–2510.