Region-specific growth properties and trophic requirements of brain- and spinal cord-derived rat embryonic neural precursor cells

S. L. Fu, Z. W. Ma, L. Yin, C. Iannotti, P. H. Lu, X. M. Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


To determine whether neural precursor cells have region-specific growth properties, we compared the proliferation, mitogenicity, and differentiation of these cells isolated from the embryonic day 16 rat forebrain and spinal cord. Neural precursor cells isolated from both regions were cultured in growth medium supplemented with epidermal growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, or epidermal growth factor+basic fibroblast growth factor. Under all three conditions, both neural precursor cell populations proliferated for multiple passages. While spinal cord-derived neural precursor cells proliferated moderately faster in epidermal growth factor-enriched growth medium, brain-derived cells proliferated much faster in basic fibroblast growth factor-enriched growth medium. When exposed to both epidermal growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor, the two neural precursor cell populations expanded and proliferated more rapidly than when exposed to a single factor, with brain-derived neural precursor cells expanding significantly faster than spinal cord-derived ones (P<0.0001). Differentiation studies showed that both neural precursor cell populations were multi-potent giving rise to neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. However, neuronal differentiation from brain-derived neural precursor cells was greater than spinal cord-derived ones (11.95±5.00% vs 1.92±1.13%; passage 2). Further, the two neural precursor cell populations differentiated into a similar percentage of oligodendrocytes (brain: 8.66±5.85%; spinal cord: 7.69±3.91%; passage 2). Immunofluorescence and Western blot studies showed that neural precursor cells derived from both regions expressed receptors for basic fibroblast growth factor and epidermal growth factor. However, brain-derived neural precursor cells expressed higher levels of the two receptors than spinal cord-derived ones in growth medium containing epidermal growth factor+basic fibroblast growth factor. Thus, our results showed that neural precursor cells isolated from the two regions of the CNS have distinct properties and growth requirements. Identifying phenotypic differences between these neural precursor cell populations and their growth requirements should provide new insights into the development of cell therapies for region-specific neurological degenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-862
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 12 2005



  • Brain
  • Differentiation
  • Embryonic
  • Neural progenitor cells
  • Neural stem cells
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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