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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1990 Mar 1;52(1-2):241-6.

Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) levels in the developing rat brain.

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CNS Growth Factor Research Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


Acidic and basic fibroblast growth factors (FGF) are polypeptides with potent multipotential trophic effects on central nervous system (CNS) glia, endothelial cells, and neurons. These factors are characterized by strong binding to heparin, and are commonly assayed by their mitogenic activity on Balb/c 3T3 cells in vitro. We found a marked (ca. 13-fold) increase in Balb/c 3T3 mitogenic activity in the developing rat brain from the embryonic stage to the third postnatal week. High levels were sustained in the mature brain. Most of the mitogenic activity from rat brain bound strongly to heparin-affinity columns, and was eluted at positions characteristic of acidic FGF (aFGF) and basic FGF (bFGF). The presence of aFGF and bFGF in eluted peaks was confirmed by immunoblotting techniques using specific anti-FGF sera. Heparin-affinity high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) showed a proportionately greater increase in levels of aFGF than bFGF between the tenth and fortieth postnatal days. Increases in FGF levels during late embryonic and early postnatal stages of brain development may play an important role in the glial and capillary proliferation, as well as in the neuronal outgrowth and synapse formation that is occurring during this time. The differential rates of accumulation of aFGF vs bFGF suggest different physiological roles for these factors in the developing brain.

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