Basic fibroblast growth factor: A potential inhibitor of glutamine synthetase expression in injured neural tissue

Yelena Kruchkova, Iris Ben-Dror, Avia Herschkovitz, Magda David, Avner Yayon, Lily Vardimon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) was recently shown to promote the survival of neural cells and tissues, raising hopes for its therapeutic potential in degenerative disorders of the CNS. Here we examine the effect of bFGF on the expression of glutamine synthetase, a key enzyme in the detoxification of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Expression of this enzyme is regulated by systemic glucocorticoids and, in chick neural retina tissue, is restricted to Müller glial cells. We report that exogenous supply of bFGF to retinal explants inhibits hormonal induction of glutamine synthetase expression. This inhibition appears to be mediated by the c-Jun protein which accumulated, in response to bFGF, exclusively in Müller glial cells. Ischemic conditions, which reportedly stimulate the release of endogenous bFGF, also led to an increase in c-Jun protein and a decline in glutamine synthetase expression. This decline could be competitively prevented by a soluble fibroblast growth factor receptor but not by a soluble epidermal growth factor receptor. The finding that endogenous release of bFGF or its exogenous supply down-regulates glutamine synthetase expression suggests that in addition to its reported neuroprotective effect, bFGF may exacerbate glutamate mediated neurotoxicity through direct down-regulation of glutamine synthetase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1641-1649
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Basic fibroblast growth factor
  • C-Jun
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Glutamine synthetase
  • Neural retina
  • Neuroprotection


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