Neurotrophins regulate proliferation and survival of two microglial cell lines in vitro

Jianmin Zhang, Changiz Geula, Chengliang Lu, Henry Koziel, Linda M. Hatcher, Fred J. Roisen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Microglia are thought to play a key role in the development and regeneration of the central nervous system although the mechanisms regulating their presence and activity are not fully understood. Substantial evidence suggests that members of the neurotrophin family such as nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and neurotrophin-3 and -4 (NT-3/4) have a dramatic effect on both neurons and perineuronal cells. This study employed two murine microglial lines, BV-2 and N9, to examine the action of these neurotrophins on the mitotic activity and survival of microglia in vitro. Neurotrophins were incorporated into the media at the time of plating and cell number and levels of mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity (MTT) were determined at various time points in vitro. NGF increased cell number and MTT levels of both cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. BV-2 was more sensitive to NGF than N9. Similar responses were elicited by BDNF, although the sensitivity of each cell line was different than that found for NGF. NT-3 and NT-4 had no effect on cell proliferation. However, NT-4 had an effect on the survival of BV-2 and N9 cells. The response of these cells to neurotrophins was blocked by K252a, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, suggesting that actions of neurotrophins were mediated by high-affinity tyrosine kinase receptors (Trk). Immunolocalization studies revealed positive Trk (pan) reactivity in the above cell lines and in primary microglia, but an absence of the low-affinity p75 neurotrophin receptor. Western blot analysis supported the above observations. These studies suggest that in addition to their neurotrophic actions, NGF and BDNF may also regulate microglial dynamics, thereby influencing the surrounding milieu during neuronal regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-481
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


  • BDNF
  • BV-2
  • N9
  • NGF
  • NT-3
  • NT-4
  • Neurotrophic factors
  • Regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurotrophins regulate proliferation and survival of two microglial cell lines in vitro'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this