Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Age-related neuronal dysfunction can be overcome by circulating factors present in young blood. Growth differentiation factor-11 (GDF-11), a systemic factor that declines with age, can reverse age-related dysfunction in brain, heart and skeletal muscle. Given that age increases susceptibility to stroke, we hypothesized that GDF-11 may be directly protective to neurons following ischemia. Primary cortical neurons were isolated from E18 Wistar rat embryos and cultured for 7-10 days. Neurons were deprived of oxygen and glucose (OGD) to simulate ischemia. Neuronal death was assessed by lactate dehydrogenase, propidium iodide or CellTox™ green cytotoxicity assays. 40 ng/mL GDF-11 administration during 2 h OGD significantly increased neuronal death following 24 h recovery. However, GDF-11 pre-treatment did not affect neuronal death during 2 h OGD. GDF-11 treatment during the 24 h recovery period after 2 h OGD also did not alter death. Real-time monitoring for 24 h revealed that by 2 h OGD, GDF-11 treatment had increased neuronal death which remained raised at 24 h. Co-treatment of 1 μM SB431542 (ALK4/5/7 receptor inhibitor) with GDF-11 prevented GDF-11 neurotoxicity after 2 h OGD and 24 h OGD. Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) did not increase neuronal death to the same extent as GDF-11 following OGD. GDF-11 neurotoxicity was also exhibited following neuronal exposure to hydrogen peroxide. These results reveal for the first time that GDF-11 is neurotoxic to primary neurons in the acute phase of simulated stroke through primarily ALK4 receptor signaling.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Neurol

Publication Date





GDF-11, growth factor, in vitro, ischemia, neuron, stroke