Brain-derived neurotrophic factor stimulates survival and neuronal differentiation in cultured avian neural crest

Chaya Kalcheim*, Marcelle Gendreau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The response of trunk neural crest cells taken from precise levels of the neural axis and cultured together with adjacent somites to Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), was examined in cultures grown in a chemically defined medium. In control cultures, the number of neural crest-derived neurons expressing the HNK-1 epitope, increased as a function of somitic level in a caudorostral direction. Treatment of cultures with increasing concentrations of BDNF (50 pg/ml to 1 ng/ml) resulted in a 1.5- to 6-fold stimulation in the number of neurons developing from crest cells excised at advanced and post-migratory stages, whereas early migrating crest cells were responsive only to concentrations equal to or higher than 1 ng/ml of BDNF. Nerve growth factor used at 5 and 30 ng/ml had no effect on survival of HNK-1-positive cells at any of the somitic levels tested. In an attempt to identify the subpopulation of HNK-1-immunoreactive neurons responding to BDNF, control and treated cultures were stained for the HNK-1 antibody in combination with substance P (SP) antibodies (as a marker for sensory neurons). SP immunoreactivity localized to a subpopulation of phase-bright, HNK-1-positive neurons. The absolute number of SP-positive neurons increased 2- to 4-fold upon BDNF treatment; however, their relative proportion within the population expressing the HNK-1 epitope remained essentially unchanged from control to treated cultures (on day 1, 20% as compared to 23.3% and on day 2, 44.6% compared to 49.7% for control and treated cultures, respectively). Taken together, these data suggest that BDNF stimulates primary neuronal differentiation of SP expressing neurons, and/or their survival.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Neural crest
  • Peripheral nervous system
  • Sensory ganglion
  • Substance P


Dive into the research topics of 'Brain-derived neurotrophic factor stimulates survival and neuronal differentiation in cultured avian neural crest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this