Morphological differentiation of astroglial progenitor cells from EGF- responsive neurospheres in response to fetal calf serum, basic fibroblast growth factor, and retinol

Y. H. Chiang, V. Silani, F. C. Zhou

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Procurement of multipotential neuroglial stem cells is possible with the addition of epidermal growth factor (EGF). Stem cells will differentiate into neurons and gila upon the removal of EGF from the culture medium. We have previously characterized the neuronal differentiation of stem cells derived from long-term cultured nonpassage neurospheres. In the current study, we (1) characterize the morphological differentiation of the astroglial progenitor cell from 3-mo-old neurospheres, (2) examine whether the astroglial progenitor cells from neurospheres of different brain areas exhibit different differentiation responses to the same exogenous signals, and (3) test the effects of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and retinol on differentiation. Cerebral cortex, striatum, and mesencephalon cells were obtained from Embryonic Day 14 (E-14) rat fetuses and were dissociated for the procurement of neurospheres in chemically defined medium supplemented with EGF. After 3 mo in culture, the neurospheres, derived from each of the three brain areas, were subcultured into three groups on chamber slides: (1) basal medium, (2) the basal medium plus 20 ng/mL bFGF, and (3) the basal medium plus 10 μM retinol. Phenotypic expression of astroglial cells was examined after 14 days subculture. Our findings indicate that the 3-mo-old cultured nonpassage neurospheres contained numerous multipotential stem cells that stained positive with nestin, and that environmental factors played an important role in influencing the differentiation of astroglial progenitor cells. As detected by glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP), astroglial progenitor cells turned into protoplasmic astrocytes in the FCS-containing basal medium, fibrous astrocytes in the presence of bFGF, and spindle-shaped astrocytes in the presence of retinol. There were no noticeable differences in differentiation among astroglial progenitor cells of the various brain region-derived neurospheres in any of the three medium conditions. Peculiar varicosity-and growth cone-like structures on the long slender GFAP-positive processes suggest that neuroblasts and glioblast may share common morphologies, features, or common progenitor cells during initial differentiation in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocyte
  • Astroglial progenitor
  • bFGF
  • cell culture
  • Differentiation
  • EGF
  • Growth cone
  • Radial glia
  • Retinoic acid
  • Varicosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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