Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) increases the survival of embryonic and postnatal basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in primary culture

Linda A. Perkins, Lisa D. Cain

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    Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is found in high concentrations in the mammalian central nervous system. It is a mitogen for glia and it influences the development and survival of specific populations of neurons. In this study, we investigated the effect of various concentrations of bFGF on the survival of embryonic and postnatal cholinergic basal forebrain neurons plated at low and high density in the presence and absence of glia. We observed that 50 and 100 ng/ml of bFGF increased the survival of embryonic cholinergic neurons plated at high density. This effect was observed only in the presence of glia. Lower concentrations of 10 and 20 ng/ml had no effect on cholinergic neuronal survival. The number of GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein)-positive cells in high-density embryonic cultures was increased by all concentrations of bFGF. In low-density embryonic cultures, an increase in cholinergic neuron survival was observed at concentrations ranging from 20 to 100 ng/ml. The number of GFAP-positive cells in low-density cultures was also increased by all concentrations of bFGF. Similar to low-density embryonic cultures, the survival of cholinergic neurons from postnatal day 2 cultures was significantly increased in the presence of glia at concentrations of 20, 50 and 100 ng/ml of bFGF. Postnatal glia was affected by all concentrations of bFGF, as was observed in embryonic cultures. This study indicates that high concentrations of bFGF can influence cholinergic neuronal survival by stimulating and increasing glia, which may produce factor(s) that are necessary for cholinergic neuron survival.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)51-61
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1995



    • basal forebrain cholinergic neurons
    • basic fibroblast growth factor
    • glia
    • survival

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental Biology
    • Developmental Neuroscience

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