In vitro effects of fetal rat cerebrospinal fluid on viability and neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells

Mohammad Nabiuni, Javad Rasouli, Kazem Parivar, Homa M. Kochesfehani, Saeid Irian, Jaleel A. Miyan

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    Background: Fetal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) contains many neurotrophic and growth factors and has been shown to be capable of supporting viability, proliferation and differentiation of primary cortical progenitor cells. Rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells have been widely used as an in vitro model of neuronal differentiation since they differentiate into sympathetic neuron-like cells in response to growth factors. This study aimed to establish whether PC12 cells were responsive to fetal CSF and therefore whether they might be used to investigate CSF physiology in a stable cell line lacking the time-specific response patterns of primary cells previously described.Methods: In vitro assays of viability, proliferation and differentiation were carried out after incubation of PC12 cells in media with and without addition of fetal rat CSF. An MTT tetrazolium assay was used to assess cell viability and/or cell proliferation. Expression of neural differentiation markers (MAP-2 and β-III tubulin) was determined by immunocytochemistry. Formation and growth of neurites was measured by image analysis.Results: PC12 cells differentiate into neuronal cell types when exposed to bFGF. Viability and cell proliferation of PC12 cells cultured in CSF-supplemented medium from E18 rat fetuses were significantly elevated relative to the control group. Neuronal-like outgrowths from cells appeared following the application of bFGF or CSF from E17 and E19 fetuses but not E18 or E20 CSF. Beta-III tubulin was expressed in PC12 cells cultured in any media except that supplemented with E18 CSF. MAP-2 expression was found in control cultures and in those with E17 and E19 CSF. MAP2 was located in neurites except in E17 CSF when the whole cell was positive.Conclusions: Fetal rat CSF supports viability and stimulates proliferation and neurogenic differentiation of PC12 cells in an age-dependent way, suggesting that CSF composition changes with age. This feature may be important in vivo for the promotion of normal brain development. There were significant differences in the effects on PC12 cells compared to primary cortical cells. This suggests there is an interaction in vivo between developmental stage of cells and the composition of CSF. The data presented here support an important, perhaps driving role for CSF composition, specifically neurotrophic factors, in neuronal survival, proliferation and differentiation. The effects of CSF on PC12 cells can thus be used to further investigate the role of CSF in driving development without the confounding issues of using primary cells. © 2012 Nabiuni et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number8
    JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2012


    • Cerebrospinal fluid
    • Fetal rat
    • Neuronal differentiation
    • Pc12 cells


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