Growth and development of sympathetic neurons in tissue culture.

M. I. Johnson, L. Iacovitti, D. Higgins, R. P. Bunge, H. Burton

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6 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 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 explants in culture, develop low choline acetyltransferase activity and the synaptic endings containing 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 beta-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
Pages (from-to)108-122
Number of pages15
JournalCiba Foundation symposium
StatePublished - 1981


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