Pierozan P, Karlsson O
Cell Death Dis 10 (7) 478 [2019-06-17; online 2019-06-17]
The widespread environmental contaminant β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is a developmental neurotoxicant that can induce long-term learning and memory deficits. Studies have shown high transplacental transfer of 3H-BMAA and a significant uptake in fetal brain. Therefore, more information on how BMAA may influence growth and differentiation of neural stem cells is required for assessment of the risk to the developing brain. The aim of this study was to investigate direct and mitotically inherited effects of BMAA exposure using primary striatal neurons and embryonic neural stem cells. The neural stem cells were shown to be clearly more susceptible to BMAA exposure than primary neurons. Exposure to 250 µM BMAA reduced neural stem cell proliferation through apoptosis and G2/M arrest. At lower concentrations (50-100 µM), not affecting cell proliferation, BMAA reduced the differentiation of neural stem cells into astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and neurons through glutamatergic mechanisms. Neurons that were derived from the BMAA-treated neuronal stem cells demonstrated morphological alterations including reduced neurite length, and decreased number of processes and branches per cell. Interestingly, the BMAA-induced changes were mitotically heritable to daughter cells. The results suggest that early-life exposure to BMAA impairs neuronal stem cell programming, which is vital for development of the nervous system and may result in long-term consequences predisposing for both neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegenerative disease later in life. More attention should be given to the potential adverse effects of BMAA exposure on brain development.