20‐hydroxyecdysone stimulates proliferation of glial cells in the developing brain of the moth Manduca sexta

Sheila R. Kirschenbaum, Mark R. Higgins, Michael Tveten, Leslie P. Tolbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The steroid hormone 20‐hydroxyecdysone (20‐HE) controls diverse aspects of neuronal differentiation during metamorphosis in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. In the present study we have examined the effect of 20‐HE on glial cells of the brain during the metamorphic period. The antennal (olfactory) lobe of Manduca provides an ideal system in which to study effects of hormones on glial cells, since three known classes of glial cells participate in its development, and at least one type is critically important for establishment of normal neuronal morphology. These glial cells, associated with the neuropil, form boundaries for developing olfactory glomeruli as a result of proliferation and migration. We determined whether glial cells proliferate in response to 20‐HE by injecting a pulse of 20‐HE into the hemolymph at different stages of development and monitoring proliferation of all three types of glial cells. Hormone injections at the beginning and end of metamorphic development, when hormone titers are normally low, did not stimulate proliferation of neuropil‐associated glial cells. Injections during the period when hormone titers are normally rising produced significant increases in their proliferation. Injections when hormone titers are normally high were ineffective at enhancing their proliferation. One other class of glial cells, the perineurial cells, also proliferate in response to 20‐HE. Thus, glial proliferation in the brain is under the control of steroid hormones during metamorphic development. © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-247
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • development
  • glia
  • hormone
  • insect
  • proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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