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J Neurosci Methods. 1995 Sep-Oct;61(1-2):159-67.

Effects of L-serine on neurons in vitro.

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Institute of Biochemistry, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


We have examined the influence of amino acids on chicken embryonic dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in vitro and have found that serine has a marked impact on the morphology of the developing neurites. In cultures supplemented with L-serine (but not D-serine) at micromolar concentrations (10-200 microM), the length of the neurites was increased by up to 100% and they were seen to develop a more complex branching pattern. These effects of L-serine were found to be concentration-dependent and stereospecific and were observed on several different substrata such as laminin, Ng-CAM and axonin-1. Similar observations were also made in the case of embryonic retinal explants, while the addition of non-essential amino acids other than L-serine to DRG neurons was found to have no effect. We conclude that, although belonging to the group of non-essential amino acids and not a recognized neurotransmitter, L-serine is an important factor for the morphological differentiation of neurons in vitro.

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