Growth and Development of Sympathetic Neurons in Tissue Culture

Mary I. Johnson, Lorraine Iacovitti, Dennis Higgins, Richard P. Bunge, Harold Burton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Adrenergic neurons from the superior cervical ganglion of the neonatal rat, when studied under certain culture conditions, develop cholinergic properties including hexamethonium-sensitive synaptic interactions, choline acetyltransferase activity and synaptic endings containing clear vesicles. Evidence from correlative biochemical, physiological and morphological studies on populations of neurons indicates that cholinergic function is acquired by the majority of neurons and not by a subpopulation. The factors that influence the development of cholinergic function in culture include the presence of non-neuronal cells, the addition of human placental serum and chick embryo extract to the culture medium as well as the stage of development at which the neurons are placed in culture. Neurons from mature rats, maintained as expiants in culture, develop low choline acetyltransferase activity and the synaptic endings contain dense-cored vesicles. In contrast, if dissociated, these adult neurons develop several cholinergic characteristics. Studies to determine which adrenergic properties are retained in neurons expressing cholinergic characteristics have shown an increase in the activities of tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine β-hydroxylase in both explanted and dissociated perinatal neurons. In addition, tyrosine hydroxylase has been localized immunocytochemically in neurons identified as cholinergic by electrophysiological methods.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopment of the Autonomic Nervous System
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons Ltd
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780470720653
ISBN (Print)0272796190, 9780272796191
StatePublished - May 30 2008


  • Acetyltransferase activities
  • Adrenergic neurons
  • Chemical transmission
  • Embryonic rat
  • Superior cervical ganglion

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