Nerve growth factor: Cellular localization and regulation of synthesis
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The role of nerve growth factor (NGF) as a retrograde messenger between peripheral target tissues and innervating sympathetic and neural crest-derived sensory neurons is supported by the observations that (a) the interruption of retrograde axonal transport has the same effects as the neutralization of endogenous NGF by anti-NGF antibodies and (b) the close correlation between the density of innervation by fibers of NGF-responsive neurons and the levels of NGF and mRNANGF in their target organs.
In situ hybridization experiments have demonstrated that a great variety of cells in the projection field or NGF-responsive neurons is synthesizing NGF, among them epithelial cells, smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts, and Schwann cells.
The temporal correlation between the growth of trigeminal sensory fibers into the whisker pad of the mouse and the commencement of NGF synthesis initially suggested a causal relationship between these two events. However, in chick embryos rendered aneural by prior removal of the neural tube or the neural crest, it was shown that the onset of NGF synthesis in the periphery is independent of neurons, and is controlled by an endogenous “clock” whose regulatory mechanism remains to be established.
A comparison between NGF synthesis in the nonneuronal cells of the newborn rat sciatic nerve and that in the adult sciatic nerve after lesion provided evidence for the important regulatory role played by a secretory product of activated macrophages. The identity of this product is currently under investigation.
Key wordsnerve growth factor neural crest sympathetic system axonal transport in situ hybridization
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