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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1979 Oct;76(10):5382-6.

Experimental autoimmune model of nerve growth factor deprivation: effects on developing peripheral sympathetic and sensory neurons.


An experimental autoimmune model of nerve growth factor (NGF) deprivation has been used to assess the role of NGF in the development of various cell types in the nervous system. Adult rats immunized with 2.5S mouse NGF in complete Freund's adjuvant produced antibodies that crossreacted with their own NGF and that were transferred in utero to the fetus and in milk to the neonate. Cross-fostering experiments were carried out to separate the effects of exposure to anti-NGF in utero from those due to exposure through the milk. Anti-NGF transferred in utero and in milk resulted in the destruction of peripheral sympathetic neurons assessed by morphological methods (light microscopy) and biochemical methods (tyrosine hydroxylase activity, choline acetyltransferase activity, and protein content). No effects were observed on the adrenal medulla. Offspring of NGF-immunized females exposed to anti-NGF in utero had a decreased protein content in the dorsal root ganglia and were unable to transport (125)I-labeled NGF injected in the forepaw to the dorsal root ganglia. These results suggest that a subpopulation of sensory neurons is dependent on NGF for survival during some period of fetal development. This model offers the potential for determining the degree and time of dependence of various cell types on NGF.

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