Effects of Cerebrolysin on the outgrowth and protection of processes of cultured brain neurons

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2001;108(5):581-92. doi: 10.1007/s007020170058.


Cerebrolysin (Cere, EBEWE Arzneimittel, Austria), a peptidergic drug produced by a standardised enzymatic breakdown of porcine brain proteins, consists of a mixture of 75% free amino acids and 25% low molecular weight peptides (<10 k DA). Cerebrolysin was shown to protect against MAP2 loss in primary embryonic chick neuronal cultures after brief histotoxic hypoxia and in a rat model of acute brain ischemia. Since MAP2 is involved in processes like neuronal growth, plasticity and dendritic branching, we address the question whether Cere is protecting processes against degeneration in a chronic low serum (2% FCS) cell stress model and whether the spontaneous outgrowth of axon-like processes is influenced. This was accomplished by quantification of the neurite lengths of embryonic chicken telencephalon neurons after 4 and 8 days. Additionally, time-lapse video microscopy was performed to study a possible influence of Cere on the growth cone behaviour of axon-like processes. To distinguish between effects caused by the peptide fraction and the effects related to free amino acids, we used an artificial amino acid solution (AA-mix). Results demonstrate a process outgrowth promoting effect of the AA-mix and Cere after 4 DIV. After 8 days neuronal network degeneration occurred in the AA-mix treated cultures, whereas Cere treated cultures still presented a well differentiated neuronal network. Dying neurons could release factors possibly impeding neurite outgrowth and Cere was shown to increase the viability of chicken cortical neurons. Neither the addition of BDNF nor serum supplementation (5% and 10% FCS) could protect the neuronal network against degeneration after 8 DIV, although these treatments were shown to ameliorate the viability of chicken telencephalon neurons. This result together with the finding obtained using the artificial amino acid solution points to the peptide fraction of Cere to be responsible for the protection of processes against degeneration. Time-lapse studies of Cere treated cultures revealed a significant decrease of the velocities characterising random growth cone movements, which is thought to be responsible for an increase in the length of axon-like processes after 4 DIV.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Cell Size / physiology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured / cytology
  • Cells, Cultured / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured / metabolism
  • Chick Embryo
  • Culture Media / pharmacology
  • Growth Cones / drug effects*
  • Growth Cones / metabolism
  • Growth Cones / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / drug effects*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*


  • Amino Acids
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Culture Media
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • cerebrolysin