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Dev Biol. 1993 Oct;159(2):618-30.

Glial cell mitogens bFGF and PDGF differentially regulate development of O4+GalC- oligodendrocyte progenitors.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Connecticut Medical School, Farmington 06030.


The oligodendrocyte lineage in cerebrum is characterized by the expression of immunologically identified surface antigens resulting in the sequential appearance of three distinct phenotypes, A2B5+O4-, O4+GalC-, and O4+GalC+. In the present study we have placed O4+GalC- progenitors immunopanned from premyelinating rat cerebrum into a basal, defined medium that by itself does not support well either their proliferation or survival. The response of these progenitor cells to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) was then examined. The results demonstrate that both PDGF and bFGF stimulated proliferation and short-term survival of newly cultured cells, but that their effect on the course of O4+GalC- differentiation was strikingly different. PDGF delayed postmitotic development by transiently reverting (ED50 = 3 ng/ml) O4+GalC- progenitors to A2B5+O4- preprogenitor-like cells that subsequently differentiated even in the continued presence of PDGF. bFGF restored mitogenic activity of the O4+GalC- progenitors to a saturable level at low doses (ED50 = 1 ng/ml); doses of bFGF > or = 10 ng/ml impaired differentiation of the progenitors into GalC+ cells and were also mitogenic for newly differentiated GalC+ oligodendrocytes. These data imply that bFGF supplants PDGF as a mitogen during lineage progression from A2B5+O4- to O4+GalC- progenitors. Lineage reversion of O4+GalC- cells in response to PDGF is suggested as a mechanism for facilitating remyelination by triggering the proliferative expansion of O4+GalC- progenitor-like cells persisting into adulthood.

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