Alterations in Nerve Growth Factor Receptor Containing Neurons in Parkinson’s Disease

  • Elliott J. Mufson
  • Lesa N. Presley
  • Gerald A. Higgins
  • Jeffrey H. Kordower
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 38A)


At the turn of the century, neuronal loss associated with the nucleus basalis of Meynert was first observed in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) by Lewy1. Neuronal loss in this region has been based primarily on material stained for Nissl substance using perikaryal diameter as the criterion for including a neuron as part of the nucleus basalis2,3. The caveats associated with such investigations have been discussed in detail, elsewhere4. The magnocellular neurons of the nucleus basalis (Ch4) have been shown to contain the specific cholinergic marker choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)5,6,7, and that these cell bodies provide the major cholinergic innervation of the neocortex and amygdala5,8. Degeneration of these neurons may underlie deficits in cognition often seen in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease9,10 and that these cell bodies also are under the influence of the trophic substance nerve growth factor (NGF)11. We have shown using antibodies for the NGF receptor (NGFR) an almost complete colocalization between neurons expressing NGFR and the cholinergic marker ChAT within the human nucleus basalis7. Thus, the characterization of an antibody which visualizes the primate NGFR6,7 provides a unique probe for assessing the integrity of nucleus basalis cholinergic neurons in human disease. In this chapter, we present evidence of basal forebrain neuronal dysfunction in neurons which localize the NGFR without AD-type pathology in patients with PD.


Basal Forebrain Nucleus Basalis Nerve Growth Factor Receptor Magnocellular Neuron Cholinergic Marker 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliott J. Mufson
    • 1
  • Lesa N. Presley
    • 1
  • Gerald A. Higgins
    • 2
  • Jeffrey H. Kordower
    • 3
  1. 1.Christopher Center for Parkinson’s ResearchInstitute for Biogerontology ResearchSun CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurobiology and AnatomyUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy and Cell BiologyUniversity of Illinois School of Medicine ChicagoUSA

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