Type-2 astrocyte development in rat brain cultures is initiated by a CNTF-like protein produced by type-1 astrocytes

Neuron. 1988 Aug;1(6):485-94. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(88)90179-1.


O-2A progenitor cells are bipotential glial precursors that give rise to both oligodendrocytes and type-2 astrocytes on a precise schedule in the rat CNS. Studies in culture suggest that oligodendrocyte differentiation occurs constitutively, while type-2 astrocyte differentiation requires an exogenous inducer such as fetal calf serum. Here we describe a rat brain cell culture system in which type-2 astrocytes develop on schedule in the absence of exogenous inducers. Coincident with type-2-astrocyte development, the cultures produce an approximately 20 kd type-2-astrocyte-inducing factor(s). Purified cultures of type-1 astrocytes can produce a similar factor(s). Under conditions where they produce type-2-astrocyte-inducing factor(s), both brain and type-1 astrocyte cultures produce a factor(s) with ciliary neurotrophic (CNTF)-like activity. Purified CNTF, like the inducers from brain and type-1 astrocyte cultures, prematurely induces type-2 astrocyte differentiation in brain cultures. These findings suggest that type-2 astrocyte development is initiated by a CNTF-like protein produced by type-1 astrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Nerve Growth Factors / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Optic Nerve / cytology
  • Optic Nerve / embryology
  • Optic Nerve / growth & development
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Retina / cytology


  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins