Origin of Adrenal Chromaffin Cells from the Neural Crest

Part of the Medical Intelligence Unit book series (MIU.LANDES)


Adrenal chromaffin cells, or pheochromocytes, are one of the most experimentally accessible and extensively studied derivatives of the neural crest. Histological techniques based on catecholamine biochemistry allowed early researchers to identify the precursors for adrenal chromaffin cells as they migrate from the primary sympathetic chains into the adrenal primordia. Subsequent production of antisera that recognize catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes allowed further characterization of precursor migration patterns and chromaffin cell differentiation. Recently, identification of numerous molecular markers of neuronal differentiation and transcriptional regulation has led to the development of a model for the sympathoadrenal lineage and responsiveness of these cells to particular environmental cues. I will first describe the migration patterns of the neural crest-derived precursors for adrenal chromaffin cells in avian and mammalian embryos. I will then review the expression of catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes, neuronal markers and transcription factors in the sympathoadrenal lineage, and relate these patterns of differentiation to environmental cues encountered by pheochromocytes.


Neural Crest Chromaffin Cell Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type Neural Crest Cell Sympathetic Neuron 
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