BACKGROUND - Little is known about the factors regulating growth and maintenance of human leptomeningeal cells. The influence of cerebrospinal fluid on these functions is also unknown. Possible mediators include the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF beta) family, three closely related peptides that regulate proliferation and numerous other physiologic processes in most mesenchymal cells.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - Expression of both mRNA and protein for TGF beta isoforms TGF beta 1, TGF beta 2, and TGF beta 3 as well as TGF beta-competing activity were evaluated in primary human leptomeningeal cultures by Northern blot analysis, immunohistochemistry, and a radioreceptor assay, respectively. TGF beta 1, TGF beta 2, and TGF beta 3 immunoreactivity was also evaluated in brain sections containing leptomeninges from which these cell cultures were established. An additional study analyzed human cerebrospinal fluid for TGF beta-like activity.
RESULTS - Transcripts for TGF beta 1, TGF beta 2 and TGF beta 3 were detected in RNA from each of the eight leptomeningeal cultures. Significant TGF beta 1 immunoreactivity was detected in leptomeningeal tissue from five of eight cases. TGF beta 2 and TGF beta 3 immunostaining was seen in eight and seven of the cases, respectively. Similarly, cells cultured from these meninges exhibited variable TGF beta 1 and extensive TGF beta 2 and TGF beta 3 immunoreactivity. Radioreceptor assays of conditioned media from four cultures demonstrated significant latent TGF beta-like activity. TGF beta radioreceptor competing activity was also detected by radioreceptor assay in normal blood-free cerebrospinal fluid from 32 patients without neurological disease. In addition, pooled cerebrospinal fluid (from six additional patients) exhibited dose dependent TGF beta-like activity in the radioreceptor assay, stimulation of AKR-2B cell growth in soft agar and inhibition of growth in CCL-64 cell assays suggesting that cerebrospinal fluid contains TG beta-like activity.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings suggest that the human leptomeninges synthesize TGF beta 1, TGF beta 2 and TGF beta 3 and secrete latent TGF beta s at least in vitro. Human cerebrospinal fluid may also contain TGF beta isoforms. Collectively, these observations raise the possibility that members of the TGF beta family contribute to biologic processes of the leptomeninges.