Primary functional bovine adrenal cortical cell cultures have been developed to study the factors controlling adrenal cell growth. Cells were prepared by the collagenase technique and maintained in F-12 medium containing fetal calf serum and horse serum. Cells contained abundant lipid as demonstrated by staining with Oil Red O and showed strongly positive staining for Δ5,3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. ACTH inhibited DNA synthesis and stimulated steroidogenesis in these cells. Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) was shown to be a potent stimulator of the growth of normal bovine adrenal cortical cells maintained in tissue culture. The minimal effective dose of FGF was 1 ng/ml with maximal effects being observed at 100 ng/ml. The effect of FGF was dependent on the serum concentration. Inclusion of FGF in F-12 medium containing serum permitted cloning of functional bovine adrenal cortical cells from cultures seeded at low density (4 cells/cm2). ACTH inhibited the mitogenic effects of FGF. In addition to its mitogenic action, FGF is a migratory factor for bovine adrenal cortical cells. Though ACTH inhibited the mitogenic effects of FGF, it did not block the migratory activity. Epidermal growth factor did not affect the growth of either normal bovine adrenal or functional mouse adrenal tumor cells (Y-l) in tissue culture. FGF is the first direct mitogen identified for adrenal cortical cells; ACTH opposes this mitogenic action and functions directly as a differentiated function signal.
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