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Brain Res. 2000 Dec 29;887(2):250-8.

cAMP-induced stellation in primary astrocyte cultures with regional heterogeneity.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Sparks Center 865, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rd Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


It is well known that increased cAMP levels in cultured astrocytes can convert flat polygonal shaped astrocytes into process-bearing, stellate astrocytes. In this study, we have examined the possible existence of astrocyte regional heterogeneity in morphological changes in response to cAMP stimulation. Primary astrocyte cultures were prepared from six different regions of neonatal rat brains, including cerebral cortex, hippocampus, brain stem, mid brain, cerebellum, and hypothalamus. After about 2 weeks in culture, the astrocyte culture medium was changed to DMEM containing various concentrations of 8-CPT-cAMP, a membrane permeable cAMP analog, for 2 h. We found that 250 microM 8-CPT-cAMP produced a maximum effect causing >95% stellation in all regional astrocytes except hypothalamic astrocytes (56% stellation). At lower cAMP concentrations, cell stellation most effectively occurred in cerebellar astrocytes. To examine further the regional heterogeneity of astrocyte morphological changes, glutamate was added together with 8-CPT-cAMP to block cAMP-induced astrocyte stellation. Interestingly, glutamate blockage on cAMP-induced astrocyte stellation was brain region-specific in that cerebral and hippocampal astrocytes were effectively blocked by glutamate when compared to other regional astrocytes. Furthermore, glutamate inhibited isoproterenol-induced astrocyte stellation in a region-specific manner similarly as in cAMP-induced stellation. The present study demonstrates that astrocytes derived from different regions of the neonatal rat brain maintain different levels of morphological plasticity in culture.

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