Neurons differentiating from murine neural crest in culture exhibit sensory or sympathetic-like calcium currents

Marc B. Carey, Steven G. Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The trunk neural crest gives rise to peripheral sensory and sympathetic neurons. In culture, neural crest cells can be induced to differentiate into either neuronal phenotype. Few studies have examined the differentiation of physiological properties in cultures of neural crest cells. Using whole-cell recordings, our study examined the effects of growth factors on high-voltage- activated calcium current profiles exhibited by neurons differentiating in culture. We compared these profiles with those exhibited by sensory and sympathetic neurons. Neural crest cells in culture gave rise to neurons with calcium current profiles identical to either sensory or sympathetic neurons, depending on the growth conditions. On average, the calcium current profile for sensory neurons was 23% (L), 51% (N), and 12% (P), while sympathetic neurons had a similar L-type current (20%), higher N-type (76%), and lower P- type (4%). Neural crest cells cultured with human leukemia inhibitory factor plus somite cells produced neurons with a sympathetic-like calcium current profile (L: 17%, N: 75%, and P: 4%). However, murine leukemia inhibitory factor (L: 25%, N: 52%, and P: 13%) and ciliary neurotrophic factor (L: 18%, N: 49%, and P: 9%) plus somite cells produced neurons with sensory-like calcium current profiles. These growth conditions did not modify the calcium current profiles of neurons cultured from embryonic and neonatal ganglia. Similarly, murine leukemia inhibitory factor produced a greater percentage of neurons (57%) with sensitivity to capsaicin (sensory phenotype) than human leukemia inhibitory factor (3%). Physiological traits can be a useful tool for the determination of neuronal phenotype in culture where other traits may be less stable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-514
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 15 1999


  • Capsaicin
  • Ciliary neurotrophic factor
  • Human leukemia inhibitory factor
  • Mouse leukemia inhibitory factor
  • Somite cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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