Carbonic anhydrase activity in primary sensory neurons. II. Influence of environmental factors on the phenotypic expression of the enzyme in dissociated cultures of chicken dorsal root ganglion cells

Cell Tissue Res. 1986;245(3):497-505. doi: 10.1007/BF00218549.


Neuronal subpopulations of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells in the chicken exhibit carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity. To determine whether CA activity is expressed by DRG cells maintained in in vitro cultures, dissociated DRG cells from 10-day-old chick embryos were cultured on a collagen substrate. The influence exerted by environmental factors on the enzyme expression was tested under various conditions of culture. Neuron-enriched cell cultures and mixed DRG-cell cultures (including numerous non-neuronal cells) were performed either in a defined medium or in a horse serum-supplemented medium. In all the tested conditions, subpopulations of cultured sensory neurons expressed CA activity in their cell bodies, while their neurites were rarely stained; in each case, the percentage of CA-positive neurons declined with the age of the cultures. The number and the persistence of neurons possessing CA activity as well as the intensity of the reaction were enhanced by addition of horse serum. In contrast, the expression of the neuronal CA activity was not affected by the presence of non-neuronal cells or by the rise of CO2 concentration. Thus, the appearance and disappearance of neuronal subpopulations expressing CA activity may be decisively influenced by factors contained in the horse serum. The loss of CA-positive neurons with time could result from a cell selection or from genetic repression. Analysis of the time curves does not support a preferential cell death of CA-positive neurons but suggests that the eventual conversion of CA-positive neurons into CA-negative neurons results from a loss of the enzyme activity. These results indicate that the phenotypic expression of cultured sensory neurons is dependent on defined environmental factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carbonic Anhydrases / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chickens
  • Culture Media
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / enzymology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / ultrastructure
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Horses
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / enzymology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure


  • Culture Media
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Carbonic Anhydrases