Retinoic acid induces neurite outgrowth and growth cone turning in invertebrate neurons

Dev Biol. 2006 Jun 1;294(1):39-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.02.018. Epub 2006 Apr 19.


Identification of molecules involved in neurite outgrowth during development and/or regeneration is a major goal in the field of neuroscience. Retinoic acid (RA) is a biologically important metabolite of vitamin A that acts as a trophic factor and has been implicated in neurite outgrowth and regeneration in many vertebrate species. Although abundant in the CNS of many vertebrates, the precise role of RA in neural regeneration has yet to be determined. Moreover, very little information is available regarding the role of RA in invertebrate nervous systems. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that RA induces neurite outgrowth from invertebrate neurons. Using individually identified neurons isolated from the CNS of Lymnaea stagnalis, we demonstrated that a significantly greater proportion of cells produced neurite outgrowth in RA. RA also extended the duration of time that cells remained electrically excitable in vitro, and we showed that exogenously applied RA acted as a chemoattractive factor and induced growth cone turning toward the source of RA. This is the first demonstration that RA can induce turning of an individual growth cone. These data strongly suggest that the actions of RA on neurite outgrowth and cell survival are highly conserved across species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotactic Factors
  • Electrophysiology
  • Growth Cones / drug effects*
  • Invertebrates
  • Lymnaea
  • Neurites / drug effects*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*


  • Chemotactic Factors
  • Tretinoin