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Dev Neurosci. 1988;10(1):47-56.

Glutamine synthetase: a marker of an astroglial subpopulation in primary cultures of defined brain areas.

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INSERM U-282, Hôpital Henri-Mondor, Créteil, France.


Primary cultures from various areas of newborn mouse brain were developed and characterized. Enriched astroglial cultures of the cerebral hemispheres, cerebellum, medulla oblongata and olfactory bulbs contained about 80-90% glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFA) immunolabelled cells. These cultures were composed of a majority of flat, 'protoplasmic-like' cells. The aim of this culture model was used: (1) to study glutamine synthetase (GS) activity during in vitro astroglial development; (2) to consider the hydrocortisone effect on GS activity during both growth and maturation periods, and (3) to determine the development of GS immunoreactivity in the cells and eventual GFA and GS expression in these cells. We observed that GS increased during brain maturation in vivo and in vitro, and that addition of hydrocortisone (1 microM, 48 h) to the culture medium induced varying GS activity depending on the developmental stage and the area. In the four areas studied, the number and intensity of GS-immunolabelled cells reached an optimum between 18 and 30 days in vitro. Only about 50-70% of the cell population was GS positive. Double-labelling experiments showed that three groups of cells coexist whatever the considered area. Two expressed both GFA and GS proteins, the last marker at either a low or a high level, and the third was devoid of GS immunoreactivity. Regional differences in GS-specific activity, GS inducibility and GS immunoreactivity exist in the astroglial population, but the factors responsible for these variations are not yet known.

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