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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. May 1988; 85(10): 3440–3444.
PMCID: PMC280227

Thrombin modulates and reverses neuroblastoma neurite outgrowth.

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that neuroblastoma cells and several types of primary neuronal cells in culture rapidly extend neurites when switched from serum-containing to serum-free medium. The present studies on cloned neuroblastoma cells show that thrombin blocked this spontaneous differentiation at 2 nM with a half-maximal potency of 50 pM. This required the catalytic activity of thrombin and was reversed upon thrombin removal. Thrombin also caused cells in serum-free medium to retract their neurites at equally low concentrations. Two other serine proteases, urokinase and plasmin, did not block or reverse neurite extension even at 100-fold higher concentrations. A specific assay for thrombin indicated that thrombin detected in serum-containing medium from neuroblastoma cultures was derived from serum and that it was likely responsible for much of the known capacity of serum to maintain neuroblastoma cells in a nondifferentiated state. This was supported by the finding that heparin addition reduced the thrombin concentration in serum-containing medium and stimulated neurite outgrowth from neuroblastoma cells in serum-containing medium. Studies on the ability of thrombin to modulate neurite outgrowth by other agents showed that it blocked and reversed the neurite outgrowth activity of two thrombin inhibitors: protease nexin-1 (which is identical to glial-derived neurite-promoting factor) and hirudin. Thrombin, however, did not block the neurite-promoting activity of dibutyryl cAMP or prostaglandin E1. These results suggest a specific role for thrombin in control of neurite outgrowth.

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Selected References

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