Culture in reduced levels of oxygen promotes clonogenic sympathoadrenal differentiation by isolated neural crest stem cells

S. J. Morrison, M. Csete, A. K. Groves, W. Melega, B. Wold, D. J. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

310 Scopus citations


Isolated neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) differentiate to autonomic neurons in response to bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) in clonal cultures, but these neurons do not express sympathoadrenal (SA) lineage markers. Whether this reflects a developmental restriction in NCSCs or simply inappropriate culture conditions was not clear. We tested the growth and differentiation potent a of NCSCs at ~5% O2, which more closely approximates physiological oxygen levels. Eighty-three percent of p75+P0- cells isolated from embryonic day 14.5 sciatic nerve behaved as stem cells under these conditions, suggesting that this is a nearly pure population. Furthermore, addition of BMP2 plus forskolin in decreased oxygen cultures elicited differentiation of thousands of cells expressing tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine-β-hydroxylase, and the SA lineage marker SA-1 in nearly all colonies. Such cells also synthesized and released dopamine and norepinephrine. These data demonstrate that isolated mammalian NCSCs uniformly possess SA lineage capacity and further suggest that oxygen levels can influence cell fate. Parallel results indicating that reduced oxygen levels can also promote the survival, proliferation, and catecholaminergic differentiation of CNS stem cells (Studer et al., 2000) suggests that neural stem cells may exhibit a conserved response to reduced oxygen levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7370-7376
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2000



  • Autonomic differentiation
  • Cell fate determination
  • Dopamine
  • Hypoxia
  • Neural crest
  • Noradrenergic
  • Oxygen
  • Stem cell
  • Sympathetic neuron
  • Sympathoadrenal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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