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Science. 1987 Oct 2;238(4823):72-5.

Trophic stimulation of cultured neurons from neonatal rat brain by epidermal growth factor.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine 92717.


Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a potent polypeptide mitogen originally isolated from the adult male mouse submaxillary gland. It also acts as a gastrointestinal hormone. EGF-immunoreactive material has recently been identified within neuronal fibers and terminals in rodent brain. In the present study, EGF was found to enhance survival and process outgrowth of primary cultures of subneocortical telencephalic neurons of neonatal rat brain in a dose-dependent manner. This effect was observed with EGF concentrations as low as 100 picograms per milliliter (0.016 nanomolar) and was dependent on the continuous presence of EGF in the medium. Similar effects were observed with basic fibroblast growth factor, but several other growth-promoting substances, including other mitogens for glial elements, were without effect. Thus EGF, in addition to its mitogenic and hormonal activities, may act as a neurite elongation and maintenance factor for select neurons of the rodent central nervous system.

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