Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2015 Jul 1;8(7):8129-35. eCollection 2015.

Retinoic acid induced the differentiation of neural stem cells from embryonic spinal cord into functional neurons in vitro.

Tan BT1, Wang L1, Li S1, Long ZY1, Wu YM1, Liu Y1.

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Retinoic acid is an important molecular taking part in the development and homeostasis of nervous system. Neural stem cells (NSCs) are pluripotent cells that can differentiate into three main neural cells including neuron, astrocyte and oligodendrocyte. However, whether retinoic acid can induce NSCs derived from embryonic spinal cord differentiating into functional neurons and its efficiency are not clear. In this experiment, NSCs were isolated from embryonic 14 d spinal cord of rats. The growth and neuronal differentiation of NSCs induced by 500 nM RA was examined in vitro. It was indicated that compared with the control group, there were more differentiated cells with longer cytodendrites in the medium treated with RA at different time. And more, there were more neuronal marker positive cells in 500 nM RA group than the control group seven days after differentiation. At the same time, the expression of β-tublin III protein in RA group was higher than those in control group, which was contrary to the expression of astrocyte marker GFAP protein at seven days after differentiation. However the differentiated neurons, whether treated with RA or not both exhibited biological electrical reactivity after stimulated by glutamine. Therefore, these findings indicated that RA could promote growth of cellular dendrites and neuronal differentiation of NSCs, which also induce functional maturation of differentiated neurons finally.