Segregated neural explants exhibit co-oriented, asymmetric, neurite outgrowth

David B. Pettigrew, Curtis B. Dobson, Lori G. Isaacson, Eric C. Leuthardt, Heather N. Lilley, Georgette L. Suidan, Keith A. Crutcher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Explants of embryonic chick sympathetic and sensory ganglia were found to exhibit asymmetric radial outgrowth of neurites under standard culture conditions with or without exogenous Nerve Growth Factor [NGF]. Opposing sides of an explant exhibited: a) differences in neurite length and, b) differences in neurite morphology. Strikingly, this asymmetry exhibited co-orientation among segregated, neighboring explants. The underlying mechanism(s) of the asymmetry and its co-orientation are not known but appear to depend on cell clustering because dissociated sympathetic neurons do not exhibit co-orientation whereas re-aggregated clusters of cells do. This emergent behavior may be similar to the community effect described in other cell types. If a similar phenomenon exists in the embryo, or in maturity, it may contribute to the establishment of proper orientation of neurite outgrowth during development and/or injury-induced neuronal plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0216263
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


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