The peroxisome is a subcellular organelle that functions in essential metabolic pathways, including biosynthesis of plasmalogens, fatty acid β-oxidation of very-long-chain fatty acids, and degradation of hydrogen peroxide. Peroxisome biogenesis disorders (PBDs) manifest as severe dysfunction in multiple organs, including the central nervous system (CNS), but the pathogenic mechanisms in PBDs are largely unknown. Because CNS integrity is coordinately established and maintained by neural cell interactions, we here investigated whether cell-cell communication is impaired and responsible for the neurological defects associated with PBDs. Results from a noncontact co-culture system consisting of primary hippocampal neurons with glial cells revealed that a peroxisome-deficient astrocytic cell line secretes increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), resulting in axonal branching of the neurons. Of note, the BDNF expression in astrocytes was not affected by defects in plasmalogen biosynthesis and peroxisomal fatty acid β-oxidation in the astrocytes. Instead, we found that cytosolic reductive states caused by a mislocalized catalase in the peroxisome-deficient cells induce the elevation in BDNF secretion. Our results suggest that peroxisome deficiency dysregulates neuronal axogenesis by causing a cytosolic reductive state in astrocytes. We conclude that astrocytic peroxisomes regulate BDNF expression and thereby support neuronal integrity and function.
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