Specific and potent mitogenic effect of axolemmal fraction on schwann cells from rat sciatic nerves in serum-containing and defined media

Gen Sobue, Barbara Kreider, Arthur Asbury, David E Pleasure

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69 Scopus citations


Using cultures of Schwann cells from neonatal rat sciatic nerves, we examined the mitogenic activity of an axolemmal fraction from adult rat CNS. Axolemmal fraction proved a potent mitogen, stimulating [3H]thymidine incorporation into Schwann cell DNA 13.5 fold over control values when axolemmal fraction equivalent to 16 μg of protein per culture microwell or more was added. Half maximal stimulation was obtained with addition of axolemmal fraction equivalent to 4 μg of protein. The concentration-dependence and magnitude of the mitogenic response of the cultured cells were nearly identical whether they were maintained in vitro for 1 day or for 2 weeks prior to addition of the axolemmal fraction. A study of the time-course of the effect of axolemmal fraction on Schwann cell mitosis showed that maximal [3H]thymidine incorporation took place during the fifth day after addition of axolemmal fraction. Axolemmal fraction also produced stimulation of [3H]thymidine incorporation into Schwann cells, seeded and cultured in a serum-free defined medium. Though the concentration-dependence of the mitogenic effect in the absence of serum was similar to that in a serum-containing medium, maximal stimulation in the defined medium was only 2.8-fold. The mitogenic activity of axolemmal fraction was rapidly and almost totally inactivated by sonication or homogenization, and was partially lost after exposure to heat. The mitogenic activities of plasma membrane fragments from rat skeletal muscle or rat erythrocytes, andof mitochondrial fragments (the major contaminant of the axolemmal fraction) were one-tenth that of axolemmal fraction or less. In contrast to glial growth factor prepared from bovine pituitaries (GGF-BP), which stimulates proliferation of both fibroblasts and Schwann cells, axolemmal fraction induced proliferation of Schwann cells but not of endoneurial fibroblasts; cultures treated with axolemmal fraction demonstrated a 3-fold increase in Schwann cell population in 10 days without detectable increase in number of fibroblasts. Also in contrast to GGF-BP, the mitogenic effect of which is considerably enhanced by simultaneous addition of cholera toxin to the medium, cholera toxin had no effect on the Schwann cell proliferative response to axolemmal fraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-275
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 5 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • axolemmal fraction
  • mitogenic factor
  • Schwann cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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