Fibronectin supports neurite outgrowth and axonal regeneration of adult brain neurons in vitro

David A. Tonge, Hugo T. de Burgh, Reginald Docherty, Martin J. Humphries, Susan E. Craig, John Pizzey

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47 Citations (Scopus)


The molecular basis of axonal regeneration of central nervous system (CNS) neurons remains to be fully elucidated. In part, this is due to the difficulty in maintaining CNS neurons in vitro. Here, we show that dissociated neurons from the cerebral cortex and hippocampus of adult mice may be maintained in culture for up to 9 days in defined medium without added growth factors. Outgrowth of neurites including axons was observed from both CNS sources and was significantly greater on plasma fibronectin than on other substrata such as laminin and merosin. Neurite outgrowth on fibronectin appears to be mediated by alpha 5 beta 1 integrin since a recombinant fibronectin fragment containing binding sites for this receptor was as effective as intact fibronectin in supporting neurite outgrowth. Conversely, function-blocking antibodies to alpha 5 and beta 1 integrin sub-units inhibited neurite outgrowth on intact fibronectin. These results suggest that the axonal regeneration seen in in vivo studies using fibronectin-based matrices is due to the molecule itself and not a consequence of secondary events such as cellular infiltration. They also indicate the domains of fibronectin that may be responsible for eliciting this response. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2012


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