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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Sep 26;92(20):9092-6.

Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor promotes the survival and morphologic differentiation of Purkinje cells.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway 08854, USA.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1995 Dec 5;92(215):11945.


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) promotes survival of midbrain dopaminergic neurons and motoneurons. Expression of GDNF mRNA in cerebellum raises the possibility that cells within this structure might also respond to GDNF. To examine potential trophic activities of GDNF, dissociated cultures of gestational day 18 rat cerebellum were grown for < or = 21 days in the presence of factor. GDNF increased Purkinje cell number without affecting the overall number of neurons or glial cells. A maximal response (50% above control) was elicited with GDNF at 1 pg/ml. Effects of GDNF on Purkinje cell differentiation were examined by scoring the morphologic maturation of cells in treated and control cultures. GDNF increased the proportion of Purkinje cells that displayed relatively mature morphologies, characterized by dendritic thickening and the development of spines and filopodial extensions. Morphologic maturation of the overall neuronal population was unaffected. In sum, our data indicate that GDNF is a potent survival and differentiation factor for Purkinje cells, the efferent neurons of cerebellar cortex. Together with its other actions, these findings raise the possibility that GDNF might be a critical trophic factor at multiple loci in neuronal circuits that control motor function.

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