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Keywords:

  • Neurotransmitter expression;
  • Ciliary neurotrophic factor;
  • Cholinergic differentiation factor;
  • Leukemia inhibitory factor;
  • Depolarization;
  • Neuropeptide

Abstract: The neurotransmitter phenotype switch that occurs in cultures of rat superior cervical ganglion neurons after treatment with leukemia inhibitory factor or ciliary neurotrophic factor is a useful model permitting investigation of the mechanisms of cytokine-mediated differentiation. Recently the actions of leukemia inhibitory factor and ciliary neurotrophic factor have been linked through their interactions with related receptor complexes. Here we compare the effects of these two cytokines on gene expression in sympathetic neuronal cultures and begin to investigate their mechanisms. We report that, as has been shown for leukemia inhibitory factor, ciliary neurotrophic factor regulates peptides and classical transmitters in these cultures at the mRNA level. In addition, we find that the induction of substance P mRNA by these cytokines is rapid, dependent on protein synthesis, and occurs in 40–50% of superior cervical ganglion neurons in dissociated culture.