Oligodendrocyte Development and Myelination in Serum-Free Aggregating Brain Cell Cultures
A growing body of evidence suggests that cell-cell signalling plays a crucial role in neural development from the earliest stages of neurogenesis up to relatively late developmental events such as myelination. Cell-cell communication appears to be mediated by direct cell-cell contact as well as by specific diffusible substances. In addition to cellular signals, hormones may also greatly influence the course of brain development. To elucidate these intricate mechanisms, research is required at both the molecular and cellular level. Aggregating brain cell cultures (for reviews, see refs. 1–3) appear to offer a particularly suitable model to study these problems at the cellular level. The cultures described here are prepared from fetal brain tissue by allowing mechanically dissociated cells to reaggregate under controlled conditions into small, uniform spheres (4). The resulting three-dimensional cell structure of each sphere provides a maximum of cell-cell interactions, and enables the cells to rearrange and to develop in a histotypic fashion. Histotypic cellular organization and maturation occurs also in aggreate cultures prepared and grown in a chemically defined medium (3,5). These serum-free cultures can be obtained in large quantities, and may be used at different developmental stages for multidisciplinary studies. Since the cellular composition of aggregate cultures reflects that of the original brain tissue, the development of all constituents can be studied, and regional differences in the behavior of cells can be investigated. Serum-free aggregating cell cultures of fetal rat telencephalon have been used in a number of developmental studies. The present report reviews some of this work related to oligodendroglial development and myelin synthesis.
KeywordsThyroid Hormone Myelin Basic Protein Brain Cell Culture Aggregate Culture Oligodendrocyte Development
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