Brain research

2-Mercaptoethanol is a survival factor for olfactory, cortical and hippocampal neurons in short-term dissociated cell culture.

PMID 8348301


A medium originally designed for lymphocyte growth promoted robust survival of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) in short-term (4-day), dissociated cell culture. The key ingredient for survival of neurons in both serum and serum-free conditions was 2-mercaptoethanol (2-ME). Enhancement of survival may be thiol-mediated because two other thiol compounds, 2-mercaptoethylamine and monothioglycerol, also increased ORN survival. Addition of 2-ME also significantly increased survival of embryonic cortical and hippocampal neurons in a serum-free medium, and embryonic cortical neurons in a serum-containing medium. After plating and growth in a serum-free medium containing 2-ME, survival of all three types of neurons was equivalent to, or greater than, survival in serum-containing media. Thus, thiols such as 2-ME promote the survival of multiple types of neurons in short-term cell culture.