In human fetal astrocytes exposure to interleukin-1β stimulates acquisition of the GD3+ phenotype and inhibits cell division

S. C. Lee, W. Liu, Dennis W Dickson, C. F. Brosnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


In human astrocyte cultures established from second-trimester fetal brain tissue, ~5-10% of total astrocyte population in unstimulated cultures were GD3+/glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)+. The GD3+ cells were always GFAP+ and grew as flat, highly spread cells but changed to process-bearing cells after interleukin-1β (IL-1β) stimulation. It is interesting that IL- 1β, a known mitogen for rat astrocytes, suppressed human fetal astrocyte proliferation as determined by [3H]thymidine incorporation, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling, and cell counting. The GD3+ population, however, consistently increased in absolute number after IL-1β stimulation, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The IL-1β-mediated increase in number of GD3+ astrocytes was independent of initial cell density or serum concentration. By flow cytometry, IL-1β enhanced both the mean fluorescence intensity and the percentage of GD3+ cells. To investigate whether the increase in GD3+ astrocyte cell number was due to proliferation of preexisting GD3+ astrocytes or due to conversion of GD3 to GD3+ cells, we performed BrdU/GD3 double immunocytochemistry. BrdU/GD3 double-positive cells were extremely rare in both control and IL-1β-stimulated cultures. Moreover, an increase in number of GD3+ astrocytes was still observed in control and IL-1β-stimulated cultures where GD3+ cells had been initially eliminated by cell sorting. These results indicate that GD3+ astrocytes in human fetal culture may represent a postmitotic, differentiated, distinct phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1800-1807
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytes
  • Culture
  • GD3 ganglioside
  • Human
  • Interleukin-1
  • Proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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