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Epithelial cells supply Sonic Hedgehog to the perinatal dentate gyrus via transport by platelets.

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Dentate neural stem cells produce neurons throughout life in mammals. Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is critical for maintenance of these cells; however, the perinatal source of Shh is enigmatic. In the present study, we examined the role of Shh expressed by hair follicles (HFs) that expand perinatally in temporal concordance with the proliferation of Shh-responding dentate stem cells. Specific inhibition of Shh from HFs or from epithelial sources in general hindered development of Shh-responding dentate stem cells. We also found that the blood-brain barrier (BBB) of the perinatal dentate gyrus (DG) is leaky with stem cells in the dentate exposed to blood-born factors. In attempting to identify how Shh might be transported in blood, we found that platelets contain epithelial Shh, provide Shh to the perinatal DG and that inhibition of platelet generation reduced hedgehog-responsive dentate stem cells.

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