Bovine brain gangliosides were applied to primary and established neuronal cultures to examine the role of gangliosides in neuronal development. Media containing gangliosides enhanced the degree of axonal elongation exhibited by sensory ganglia neurons and increased the length and number of Neuro-2a neuroblastoma cell processes. Ganglioside-supplemented media caused a twofold increase in ornithine decarboxylase activity in both culture systems. These experiments suggest that gangliosides function as acceptor molecules for growth-promoting substances in embryonic and tumor-derived neurons.
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