Culture of dorsal root ganglion neurons from aged rats: Effects of acetyl-l-carnitine and NGF

A. Manfridi, G. L. Forloni, E. Arrigoni-Martelli, M. Mancia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In vitro neuronal preparations are used to study the action mechanism of substances which are active in normal and pathological brain aging. One major concern with in vitro assays is that the use of embryonic or adult neurons may hamper an appreciation of the relevance of these substances on aged nervous tissue. In the present study for the first time cultures of aged dorsal root ganglia from 24-months-old rats were maintained in vitro up to 2 weeks. This model was used to investigate the neurotrophic/ neuroprotective action of nerve growth factor and acetyl-l-carnitine. A large population of aged dorsal root ganglia neurons was responsive to nerve growth factor (100 ng/ml). Nerve growth factor induced an increase of initial rate of axonal regeneration and influenced the survival time of these neurons. Acetyl-l-carnitine (250 μM) did not affect the axonal regeneration but substantially attenuated the rate of neuronal mortality. A significant difference was evident between the acetyl-l-carnitine-treated and the untreated neurons from the first cell counting (day 3 in culture). After 2 weeks the number of aged neurons treated with acetyl-l-carnitine was almost double that of the controls. The effects of acetyl-l-carnitine on aged DRG neurons potentially explain the positive effects in clinical and in vivo experimental studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • aging
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • DRG
  • Neurotrophic factors
  • tissue culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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