The central nervous system produces growth factors that stimulate proliferation of ameboid microglia during embryogenesis and after traumatic injury. Two microglial mitogens (MMs) are recovered from the brain of newborn rat. MM1 has an approximate molecular mass of 50 kD and a pI of approximately 6.8; MM2 has a molecular mass of 22 kD and a pI of approximately 5.2. These trypsin-sensitive proteins show specificity of action upon glia in vitro serving as growth factors for ameboid microglia but not astroglia or oligodendroglia. Although the MMs did not stimulate proliferation of blood monocytes or resident peritoneal macrophage, MM1 shows granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating activity when tested upon bone marrow progenitor cells. Microglial mitogens may help to control brain mononuclear phagocytes in vivo. The MMs first appear in the cerebral cortex of rat during early development with peak levels around embryonic day E-20, a period of microglial proliferation. Microglial mitogens are also produced by traumatized brain of adult rats within 2 d after injury. When infused into the cerebral cortex, MM1 and MM2 elicit large numbers of mononuclear phagocytes at the site of injection. In vitro study shows that astroglia from newborn brain secrete MM2. These observations point to the existence of a regulatory system whereby secretion of proteins from brain glia helps to control neighboring inflammatory responses.

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