Stem cells 2013 July-12


N-acetylcysteine enhances neuronal differentiation of P19 embryonic stem cells via Akt and N-cadherin activation.

Mol Biol (Mosk). 2012 Sep-Oct;46(5):741-6.

Yoo Hun Noh, Hang-Sun Cho, Do-Hee Kim, Ok Hyeon Kim, Jiae Park, Seung-Ah Lee, Hoon-Shik Yang, Dong-Suep Sohn, Wonyong Kim, Daejin Kim, Yoon Hee Chung, Kyung Yong Kim, Won Bok Lee and Sung Su Kim

Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, College of Medicine, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 156-756, Korea. 



Efficient generation of neurons from neuronal precursors in vitro is of great interest due to the need for a renewable cell source for stem cell therapy. Therefore, it might be critically important to develop substance and methods enhancing the efficiency of neuronal differentiation with convenient and safe.


As embryonic stem cells, P19 cells were used. To evaluate the degree of neuronal differention of embryonic stem cells, the expression level of neuronal marker (microtubule-associated protein 2; MAP-2) expression as well as the number and size of embryonic body (EB). The up-regulation or activation of various bio-molecules including N-cadherin and serine/threonine protein kinase Akt in the cells were examined, to identify molecular mechanism.   


The number of EBs having meaningful diameter in the NAC group was much greater than that in control. The total number of EBs generated by the NAC treatment was significantly greater than in control. Also, the number of neurites of differentiated P19 cells treated with NAC was 2-times greater than control. The total neurite length in cells treated with NAC was much greater than control. MAP-2 expression in the NA treated group was much higher and the portion of MAP-2 positive cells was much higher than control. Increased the expression level of N-cadherin was observed at earlier embryogenesis stages in NA treated cultures.

Immunoblot analysis revealed a significant increase in phospho-Akt in P19 cells aggregated by NAC treatment. Akt kinase activation was sustained over the development of EBs by NAC treatment in both the early and late stages. Addition of an Akt kinase inhibitor significantly re-reduced the ratio of MAP-2 positive cells even in the presence of NAC.


NAC enhanced EB generation through N-cadherin activation and neuronal differentiation via Akt activation during RA-induced P19 embryonic stem cells development.

PMID: 23156673



Supplement picture:

Sung-Su Kim-1

Press release:

NAC enhance neuronal differentiation of embryonic stem cells: A plausible way making neuronal differentiated stem cells for stem cell therapy   

Research published in Molecular Biology suggests that the effective way to get neuronal differentiated stem cells for stem cell therapy.   

The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to subsequent generations with differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body

Stem cell technology gives hope of effective treatment for brain degeneration such as in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. However, despite intense research activities and media attention, stem cell therapy for neurological disorders is still a distant goal.

A number of stem-cell therapies for brain diseases exist, but most are at experimental stages or costly. One of the major reasons making stem cells therapy difficult is that it is hard to prepare enriched homogeneous population of neuronal stem cells. So, it is very significant and to develop the effective way preparing neural stem cells for making true the clinical application of stem cells.

Dr. Sung-Su Kim who led this research showed the plausible strategy to propagate and enrich homogeneous populations of neural stem cells using embryonic stem cells effectively with safe and low cost. On the basis of the results, the stem cells therapy for various brain degenerations should be progressed to be popular therapy. 


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