Response of Schwann cells to mitogens in vitro is determined by pre-exposure to serum, time in vitro, and developmental age

Glia. 1997 Jul;20(3):219-30.


We compared the mitogenic response of Schwann cells freshly isolated from adult, neonatal, and embryonic nerves, and compared these cells with cells that had been cultured in serum for 5 days. DNA synthesis in response to growth factors was measured using bromodeoxyuridine and immunocytochemistry. Freshly isolated adult Schwann cells were unresponsive to growth factors with or without forskolin to elevate intracellular cAMP levels. After 5 days of culture in serum, or alternatively in defined medium containing fibroblast growth factor 2 plus forskolin, or neu-differentiation factor beta2, adult cells were responsive to mitogens, whereas cells cultured in defined medium alone remained unresponsive. Serum also increased expression of type 1 fibroblast growth factor receptor. Freshly isolated embryonic and neonatal Schwann cells in contrast responded to growth factors even in the absence of forskolin. This responsiveness changed with time in culture. Neonatal cells cultured for 5 days in defined medium in the presence or absence of serum no longer responded to FGF alone, but required forskolin for a mitogenic response. Thus, the response of freshly isolated cells to mitogens is developmentally regulated; extrinsic signals are required to render adult cells responsive to mitogens; and with time in culture, neonatal cells develop a requirement for cAMP elevation for mitogenic response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blood
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology
  • Colforsin / pharmacology
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / pharmacology
  • Glycoproteins / pharmacology
  • Mitogens / pharmacology*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology
  • Neuregulins
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases*
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / biosynthesis
  • Schwann Cells / drug effects*
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Mitogens
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neuregulins
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Colforsin
  • DNA
  • Fgfr1 protein, rat
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1