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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Trophic factors from chromaffin granules promote survival of peripheral and central nervous system neurons.

Chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla were used to study the release of neurotrophic factors operationally defined by their capacity to promote the in vitro survival of embryonic neurons from the peripheral and central nervous system. Chromaffin cells are closely related to sympathetic neurons in terms of their transmitters and specific proteins and, like sympathetic neurons, receive preganglionic cholinergic, aminergic and peptidergic neuronal inputs. The issue of whether chromaffin cells store and secrete neurotrophic factors is therefore pertinent to the question whether trophic mechanisms may be involved in neuronal interactions and what modes of secretion are employed to liberate neurotrophic factors from neurons. Cell culture media conditioned by purified bovine chromaffin cells supported several neuron populations in vitro. Stimulation of the chromaffin cells with the cholinergic agonist carbachol (10(-4) M) increased in parallel the output of neurotrophic factor activity (assayed on chick ciliary ganglionic neurons) as well as two components specifically located in chromaffin granules, chromogranin A and catecholamines. The release of all three components was partially blocked by the Ca2+ channel blocker verapamil (10(-5) M), suggesting co-storage and -release of neurotrophic factors, chromogranin A and catecholamines in/from chromaffin granules. Neurotrophic factor activity for ciliary ganglionic neurons accumulating in the medium of unstimulated chromaffin cells decreased with time, and so did catecholamines. In contrast, amounts of neurotrophic factors and catecholamines released by challenging cells with carbachol did not significantly decline up to 62 h. The neurotrophic factor activity tested on chick ciliary, sensory and spinal cord neurons as well as on rat hippocampal neurons was heat- and trypsin-labile and could not be blocked by polyclonal antibodies against bovine nerve growth factor and the chromogranin A, B, and C. Defined fragments of chromogranin A and pancreastatin were devoid of neurotrophic activity. Our results suggest the presence of one or several neurotrophic factors in chromaffin granules, which can be released by exocytosis and may be potentially relevant for the maintenance of neurons innervating the adrenal medulla.[1]


  1. Trophic factors from chromaffin granules promote survival of peripheral and central nervous system neurons. Lachmund, A., Gehrke, D., Krieglstein, K., Unsicker, K. Neuroscience (1994) [Pubmed]
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