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Exp Neurol. 2006 Feb;197(2):430-6. Epub 2005 Nov 21.

Nerve growth factor regulates substance P in adult sensory neurons through both TrkA and p75 receptors.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 8D University Health Center, 4201 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Expression of the nociceptive peptide, substance P (SP) is regulated by the neurotrophin, nerve growth factor (NGF), and exogenous exposure to high levels of NGF increases its cellular content and release. NGF utilizes two receptors, the NGF-specific tyrosine kinase receptor, TrkA, and also the non-specific neurotrophin receptor, p75(NTR) (p75). The purpose of this study is to determine the relative involvement of these receptors in nociception. To investigate the role of TrkA in SP signaling, sensory neurons from adult rats were grown in vitro and exposed to a TrkA-blocking antibody. Pretreatment with the antibody inhibited NGF-induced SP elevation. Furthermore, when neurons were exposed to K252a, a relatively specific TrkA kinase inhibitor, the NGF effect on SP was also inhibited. K252a did not prevent SP up-regulation in cells exposed to forskolin or glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), two agents which increase SP expression independently of TrkA. When p75 was blocked by antiserum, SP up-regulation by NGF was also inhibited. The antiserum neither impacted neuronal survival or basal levels of SP expression, nor did it inhibit SP up-regulation induced by forskolin. Two other neurotrophins, which are also ligands for p75, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) did not block NGF-induced SP up-regulation, raising the possibility that activated p75 is able to cooperate in SP regulation regardless of which neurotrophin ligand occupies it. Our data suggest that NGF up-regulation of SP expression requires the involvement of both TrkA and p75, although the specific contribution of each receptor to SP signaling remains to be determined.

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