Slices of foetal spinal cords in culture were used to establish possible trophic effects of alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) and a fragment of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH4-10) on the outgrowth of neurites from spinal neurons. The spinal cord slices were treated with peptides over a wide concentration range. Using monoclonal antibodies against (subunits of) neurofilament followed by immunofluorescence, we could show that the extension consisted mainly of axons. After 5 and 7 days, outgrowth was quantified with 2 different techniques, namely by visual scoring under phase contrast and by means of an ELISA for neurofilament protein. Both methods yielded the same dose-response profile. Both α-MSH and ACTH4-10stimulated the formation of neurites in a dose-dependent manner, with a maximal stimulatory effect at 0.001-0.01 nM (ACTH4-10) or 0.1-1.0 nM (α-MSH). The maximal effect of the peptides was 30-40% compared to controls. We conclude that α-MSH and ACTH4-10stimulate axonal outgrowth from foetal spinal cord slices in vitro in a dose-dependent way. © 1988.
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