Differentiation of Y79 cells induced by prolonged exposure to insulin

Renza Vento, Michela Giuliano, Marianna Lauricella, Maria Carabillò, Helen Main, Elvira Gerbino, Giovanni Tesoriere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Y79 human retinoblastoma cells are known to contain receptors for both insulin and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), to produce these cytokines and release them in the culture medium. Previously we have demonstrated that IGFs and insulin stimulate Y79 cell proliferation through the involvement of type I IGF receptor and Insulin Receptor Substrate 1 (IRS-1). This paper studies the effect of prolonged exposure to insulin on Y79 cells. Cells grown for 10 days in the presence of insulin were reseeded and incubated once more with insulin. In the reseeded cells proliferation lowered and morphological changes appeared. After 10 days of reseeding, cells stopped proliferating and showed long ramifying neurite processes and varicosities consistent with neuronal differentiation. Morphological differentiation was accompanied by a marked increase in the content of total protein and in that of tubulin, the major protein constituent of microtubules, a marked increase in the content of specialized protein markers of dopaminergic and cholinergic differentiation (dopamine β-hydroxylase and choline acetyltransferase activities, respectively); a contemporaneous decrease in the content of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), a specific marker of glial cells, was also observed. Our results demonstrate that prolonged exposure to insulin induces Y79 cells to differentiate into a neuronal-like phenotype. At this moment it is not possible to establish the mechanism by which insulin induces this differentiative effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Differentiation
  • Human retinoblastoma
  • Insulin
  • Y79 cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Differentiation of Y79 cells induced by prolonged exposure to insulin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this