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J Neurosci. 1995 Sep;15(9):6213-21.

Nerve growth factor in Alzheimer's disease: increased levels throughout the brain coupled with declines in nucleus basalis.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.


The current study analyzed NGF protein levels in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) as compared with aged neurologically normal individuals. An established two-site ELISA was used to measure NGF-like immunoreactivity in the hippocampus, superior temporal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, frontal and occipital cortical poles, cerebellum, amygdala, putamen, and nucleus basalis of Meynert (nbM). ChAT activity was assayed in adjacent tissue samples. NGF levels were also evaluated in Parkinson's disease for comparison with both AD and age-matched control cases. Regardless of the brain bank (University of Cincinnati, Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, or University of Alabama at Birmingham), NGF-like activity was at least moderately increased with AD in virtually every brain region examined except for the nbM, in which significant declines were observed. NGF levels were also increased when compared with age-matched Parkinson's cases (frontal cortex). NGF-like activity was not related to age at onset or disease duration in AD cases, nor did NGF levels correlate with age at death in the control or AD groups. Correlations between ChAT and NGF-like activity across brains varied considerably and were generally not significant. The present findings indicate that AD is characterized by a widespread increase in cortical and subcortical NGF. Although a correlation with ChAT activity was not observed in cortex, the AD-related decline in NGF found in nbM is consistent with the possibility of impaired retrograde transport of NGF to this region.

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