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Dibutyrylic cyclic AMP and theophylline inhibit proliferation of accessory cells in primary cultures of adrenomedullary cells

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Studies on isolated adrenal chromaffin cells in primary cultures may be seriously hampered by the presence of non-chromaffin, mainly fibroblast-like cells, which always occur in dissociates of adrenal medullary tissue and often outnumber the chromaffin cells by the end of the first week of culture, when no measures are taken to control their proliferation. The present study offers a new means to inhibit effectively the proliferation of these accessory cells by treating the cultures with dibutyrylic cyclic AMP (dbcAMP, 0.1 or 0.01 mM) and equimolar amounts of the phosphodiesterase inhibitor theophylline. With this treatment cultures of young rat adrenal chromaffin cells remain virtually free of accessory cells for two weeks of culture. Cultures of bovine adrenomedullary cells retain their initial amounts of non-chromaffin cells, which largely depends upon whether the primary cell suspensions have undergone differential plating prior to seeding. Suppression of accessory cell proliferation with dbcAMP and theophylline is partly due to maintaining differentiation of cortical cells, which otherwise dedifferentiate into rapidly dividing fibroblast-like elements. However, a more direct action of dbcAMP on accessory cells in terms of growth control is also conceivable. DbcAMP and theophylline in the doses applied do not impair the viability, ultrastructure and catecholamine-storing capacity of cultured chromaffin cells.

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Correspondence to Prof. K. Unsicker.

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Unsicker, K., Ziegler, W. Dibutyrylic cyclic AMP and theophylline inhibit proliferation of accessory cells in primary cultures of adrenomedullary cells. Cell Tissue Res. 223, 73–86 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00221500

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Key words

  • Adrenal medullary cells
  • Culture
  • Growth control of non-chromaffin cells
  • Dibutyrylic cyclic AMP
  • Theophylline