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Neurochem Res. 2013 Feb;38(2):346-55. doi: 10.1007/s11064-012-0925-8. Epub 2012 Nov 24.

Platelet-derived growth factors-BB and fibroblast growth factors-base induced proliferation of Schwann cells in a 3D environment.

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Department of Orthopaedics, First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, Zhongshan Road No. 222, Dalian 116011, China.


The proliferation of neonatal Schwann cells (SCs) in response to mitogenic agents has been well analyzed in vitro (mono-layer-culture method, 2D environment), but not in vivo (3D environment). To assess the mitogenic effect of platelet-derived growth factors-BB (PDGF-BB), Fibroblast Growth Factors-base (bFGF), and their combinations for SCs in collagen gel (three-dimensional, 3D environment), we have developed an integrated microfluidic device on which can reproducibly measure the proliferation from small number of cells (1-100). The rat SCs were cultured for 4 week at the different concentrations of growth factors generated by concentration gradient generator. In the collagen gel culture, almost all of the cells in colonies presented a round cell morphology and maintained their round morphology by the 4th week. The results showed that PDGF-BB and bFGF are all capable of moderately stimulating SCs growth and every group reached the peak in the growth curve at 3 weeks. Moreover, the proliferation test using the conventional method was performed simultaneously and revealed similar results. The biggest difference between 2D and 3D was that cells decrease more remarkable in 3D than that in 2D at 4 weeks. And at 2 and 3 weeks, the growth rate in the collagen gel with 7.14/2.86 and 8.57/1.43 ng/mL groups was higher than that in the mono-layer culture. Our results showed that PDGF-BB and bFGF are capable of moderately stimulating neonatal SCs growth, respectively and synergistically, and the microfluidic technique is highly controllable, contamination free, fully automatic, and inexpensive.

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