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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1997 Oct;21(7):1186-94.

Differential sensitivity of human neuroblastoma cell lines to ethanol: correlations with their proliferative responses to mitogenic growth factors and expression of growth factor receptors.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City 52242-1000, USA.


Early ethanol exposure depletes neurons in the developing nervous system, however the effects on neuronal precursors are not homogeneous. Some cells are more susceptible to ethanol toxicity than others. Growth factors are important mitogens for neuronal precursors. We tested the hypothesis that the differential sensitivity of neuronal precursors to ethanol is determined by their responses to growth factors using an in vitro model (SH-SY5Y, SK-N-SH, and IMR32 neuroblastoma cells) of neuronal precursors. The three cell lines were raised in a medium containing 10% or 0% fetal calf serum. Cells were exposed to ethanol and/or a growth factor. These factors included basic fibroblast growth factor, epidermal growth factor, insulin-like growth factor-I, nerve growth factor, and platelet-derived growth factors AA and BB. The numbers of cells per culture were counted both before and after 3 days of ethanol and/or growth factor treatment. In addition, the effect of ethanol exposure on the expression of receptors for these growth factors was examined. Neuroblastoma cells displayed differential sensitivity to ethanol. The growth of SH-SY5Y and SK-N-SH cells was inhibited by ethanol in a concentration-dependent manner. Ethanol did not affect cell viability. Thus, this inhibition resulted from a reduction of cell proliferation. In contrast, IMR32 cells were not affected by ethanol (even at concentrations as high as 800 mg/dl). The response to growth factors was also heterogeneous. In serum-supplemented medium, SH-SY5Y and SK-N-SH cells were stimulated by all of the tested growth factors. For cells raised in a serum-free medium, only the nerve growth factor was ineffective. IMR32 cells, however, were unaffected by most of these growth factors, regardless of the medium conditions. Ethanol blocked the action of all growth factors tested. In general, all cells expressed the specific receptors for the six growth factors. Only the expression of the basic fibroblast growth factor, insulin-like growth factor-I, and nerve growth factor receptors were reduced by ethanol exposure. In summary, neuroblastoma cells exhibit differential susceptibility to ethanol, and this correlates with their response to mitogenic growth factors. Some growth factors are a target of ethanol toxicity. These heterogeneous effects seem to parallel ethanol-induced changes of proliferating neuronal precursors in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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