Proliferation of cultured fibroblasts is inhibited by L-iduronate-containing glycosaminoglycans

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We have modified a method (Gilles et al: Anal. Biochem., 159:109-113, 1986) for measuring cell number, that is based on the binding of crystal violet to cell nuclei and used it to assay effects of various glycosaminoglycans on growth of human lung fibroblasts. The procedure was modified by growing cells in microcultures (96 well microplates) and by measuring the amount of adsorbed dye using a microplate photometer after solubilisation of the cells with detergent. There was a linear relationship between absorbance and cell number measured by a Coulter Counter. The method is rapid and sensitive and can be used for screening many samples as well as measuring growth rates at low initial cell densities. Even the low growth rates obtained in the absence of serum can be detected. Human lung fibroblasts were growth arrested by serum deprivation and then grown for periods of up to 4 days in the presence of serum and exogenously added glycosaminoglycans (range, 0.1-100 micrograms/ml). Hyaluronan, chondroitin sulfate, and dextran sulfate were without effects, whereas dermatan sulfate, certain heparan sulfates, and heparin suppressed growth (20%-50% inhibition). The antiproliferative activity of dermatan sulfate increased with increasing iduronate content. Certain heparan sulfates, with moderately high sulfate and L-iduronate contents were better inhibitors than heparin despite the fact that the latter glycan has even higher sulfate and L-iduronate contents. The antiproliferative effect of exogenous glycans appeared after a lag period of 3-4 days, suggesting that they interfered with factors produced by the cells. Furthermore, the degree of inhibition was greater when the initial cell density was low. Above a certain level of seeded cells (approx. 10,000 cells/well), there was no inhibition by any of the glycosaminoglycans. It is possible that exogenous glycans cannot overcome endogenous growth-promoting effects in densely seeded cultures.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physiology


  • Cell Count, Cell Division, Cell Nucleus, Cells, Cultured, Dermatan Sulfate, Fibroblasts, Gentian Violet, Glycosaminoglycans, Heparin, Heparitin Sulfate, Humans, Iduronic Acid, Lung, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-30
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1991 Jun
Publication categoryResearch