Contribution of Cell Culture to Understanding Neuronal Aging and Degeneration

  • Franz Hefti
Part of the Advances in Research on Neurodegeneration book series (ARN, volume 2)


Cell culture systems are frequently used to study molecular mechanisms, and they serve as models for developmental processes occurring in vivo. Further, in addition to this role as developmental models, the cultures are often used as predictors for responses occurring in the adult organism. For example, nerve growth factor (NFG) promotes differentiation of peripheral sympathetic, basal forebrain cholinergic but not mesencephalic, dopaminergic neurons and, in adult rodents, intracerebral NGF administration prevents lesion-induced degenerative changes of sympathetic neurons, forebrain cholinergic neurons but not mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons. These correlations support the notion that cultures can serve as models to predict pharmacological responses in adult rats. Cell cultures are particularly valuable because of their high capacity to test novel neuroactive molecules, in contrast to the low capacity of in vivotest systems. They can serve to identify most promising drugs or neurotrophic molecules for testing in vivo.


Nerve Growth Factor Dopaminergic Neuron Cholinergic Neuron Basal Forebrain Mesencephalic Dopaminergic Neuron 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1994

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  • Franz Hefti

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