Neurotrophic effects of cAMP generating systems on central noradrenergic neurons

Brain Res. 1993 Jun 18;614(1-2):257-69. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(93)91043-r.


The environmental signals which regulate the development of central noradrenergic neurons are largely unknown. The aim of the present study was to search for factors affecting the development of these cells. Dissociated cultures of embryonic dorsal brainstem tissue, containing the nucleus locus coeruleus (LC), were established; norepinephrine (NE) and GABA uptake were assessed, and noradrenergic versus total neurons were identified and counted following immunocytochemical staining with tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and neuron specific enolase (NSE) antibodies, respectively. Application of dibutyryl cAMP (dbcAMP), other cAMP analogs, or forskolin, to LC cultures resulted in a significant increase in NE uptake which was associated with up to a 4-fold increase in the number of TH immunoreactive cells (TH+). dbcAMP treatment caused an increase in the number of TH+ cells in LC cultures by enhancing their survival and/or by upregulating their phenotypic differentiation. A possible effect of dbcAMP on cell proliferation and transformation of non-noradrenergic cells to noradrenergic TH+ cells were examined and suggested not to underlie this effect of cAMP. Glial cells may mediate the effect of cAMP on noradrenergic neurons. Calcium was not involved in the trophic activity of dbcAMP, which was probably mediated by protein phosphorylation via cAMP dependent protein kinase. Insulin (25 micrograms/ml) was found to increase the number of TH+ cells by 73%. The beta-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol also increased the number of TH+ cells by 53%. We propose a neurotrophic role for NE during development of central noradrenergic neurons.

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Culture Media
  • Cyclic AMP / analogs & derivatives
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology*
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Locus Coeruleus / cytology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / cytology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Culture Media
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Calcium
  • Norepinephrine