Carotid body chemoreceptors in dissociated cell culture
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Carotid body (CB) glomus or type 1 cells act as peripheral chemoreceptors which detect changes in arterial PO(2), PCO(2), and pH and help maintain homeostasis via the reflex control of ventilation. Over the last approximately 12 years significant progress has been made towards understanding chemotransduction mechanisms using freshly isolated or cultured type 1 cells. The latter preparation allows several powerful experimental manipulations (e.g., co-culture with sensory neurons) resulting in significant advances in our understanding of CB chemoreception. Here, we review several properties of type 1 cells after several days to weeks in culture. Typically, cultured type 1 cells grow in monolayer clusters enveloped by glial-like, type II, or sustentacular cells, which are immunopositive for the glial marker, glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP). These cells can undergo DNA synthesis, evidenced by uptake of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), and show a limited capacity for cell division. Mitosis and survival of type 1 cells can be regulated by oxygen tension and/or growth factors (e.g., bFGF, insulin). In the rat, type 1 cells are immunopositive for several monoaminergic markers, including tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine transporter (DAT), and 5-HT. They also express cholinergic markers (e.g., vesicular acetylcholine transporter; VAChT), the highly conserved synaptic vesicle protein (SV2), and gap junctional proteins including Connexin 32 (Cx32). Moreover, in long-term culture ( approximately 2 weeks) they retain expression of O(2)-sensitive, TASK-1-like, and Ca(2+)-dependent (BK), K(+) channels as revealed by immunocytochemistry or RT-PCR analysis of mRNA extracted from type 1 clusters after removal from the culture surface.
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