CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL PHARMACOLOGY AND PHYSIOLOGY
1. Precursors form the neuroepithelium of the developing cortex and also from the adult sub-ventricular zone, can be cloned in vitro after stimulation with fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 and have the potential to give rise to both neurons and glia. The generation of neurons from these clones can be stimulated by either a factor derived from an astrocyte-precursor line, Ast-1, or FGF-1. 2. Neuronal differentiation stimulated by FGF-1 can be inhibited by diacylglycerol-lipase inhibitor and mimicked by arachidonic acid, suggesting that the neuronal differentiation is signalled through the PCL gamma pathway. 3. The sequential expression of FGF-2 and FGF-1 within the developing forebrain neuroepithelium fits with the different functions the two FGF play in precursor regulation. 4. We have shown that the precursor response to FGF-1 is regulated by a heparan sulphate proteoglycan (HSPG) expressed within the developing neuroepithelium. Precursors restricted to the astrocyte cell lineage can be stimulated by epidermal growth factor or FGF-2; however, the differentiation into GFAP positive astrocytes appears to require a cytokine acting through the leukaemia inhibitory factor beta receptor.