Neurite outgrowth plays a key role in neuronal development and regeneration, and is the hallmark assay for the effects of neurotrophic factors such as nerve growth factor (NGF). However, measuring neurite outgrowth is a slow and resource-intensive process. We therefore wanted to identify surrogate biomarkers for neurite outgrowth activity by gene expression analysis in SH-O10 cells, a subclone of the human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line but with much higher NGF-induced neurite outgrowth activity. Microarray analysis identified seven genes where mRNA levels were changed. NGF-induced decreases in levels of two genes, CyclinB2 and BIRC5, were confirmed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Levels of NGF-induced decreases in CyclinB2 and BIRC5 mRNA in several SH-SY5Y subclones with different neurite outgrowth responses correlated with their neurite outgrowth activities. Decreases in CyclinB2 and BIRC5 mRNA induced by FK506 or retinoic acid, both of which exert potentiation of NGF-induced neurite outgrowth effects but with different mechanisms, also correlated with their neurite outgrowth activities. In conclusion, decreasing levels of CyclinB2 and BIRC5 mRNA strongly correlate with neurite outgrowth activities in terms of NGF-related effect in SH-SY5Y subclonal cells, and have potential to become quantitative surrogate biomarkers for measuring NGF-related neurite outgrowth.
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