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Nox2 redox signaling maintains essential cell populations in the brain


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are conventionally classified as toxic consequences of aerobic life, and the brain is particularly susceptible to ROS-induced oxidative stress and damage owing to its high energy and oxygen demands. NADPH oxidases (Nox) are a widespread source of brain ROS implicated in seizures, stroke and neurodegeneration. A physiological role for ROS generation in normal brain function has not been established, despite the fact that mice and humans lacking functional Nox proteins have cognitive deficits. Using molecular imaging with Peroxyfluor-6 (PF6), a new selective fluorescent indicator for hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), we show that adult hippocampal stem/progenitor cells (AHPs) generate H(2)O(2) through Nox2 to regulate intracellular growth signaling pathways, which in turn maintains their normal proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Our results challenge the traditional view that brain ROS are solely deleterious by demonstrating that controlled ROS chemistry is needed for maintaining specific cell populations.

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