Axotomy induces nerve growth factor receptor immunoreactivity in spinal motor neurons

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114 Scopus citations


Expression of the nerve growth factor receptor (NGF-R) mRNA in adult motor neurons is increased by axonal injury. The present study was designed to examine, by immunocytochemistry, the onset, course, and specificity of NGF-R up-regulation following distal or proximal crush of the sciatic nerve. Lesions at both levels induced the appearnce of NGF-R like immunoreactivity in motor neurons beginning on day two postaxotomy. NGF-R-like immunoreactivity was present exclusively in axotomized neurons, as verified by the near complete colocalization of immunoreactive NGF-R with a fluorescent retrograde tracer injected at the crush site. NGF-R expression was closely linked with disconnection of cells from the target; one week after muscle reinnervation, NGF-R immunoreactivity was no longer detectable in animals with distal injuries. These results extend the previous findings of axotomy-induced expression of NGF-R mRNA to the level of the receptor. Furthermore, our observations are consistent with the hypothesis that target-derived factors participate in the regulation of NGF-R gene expression in adult motor neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-304
Number of pages8
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 24 1991


  • Axon reaction
  • Muscle
  • Rat
  • Regeneration
  • Sciatic nerve
  • Trophic factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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