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Neuroscience. 2003;120(1):99-112.

Ciliary neurotrophic factor in the olfactory bulb of rats and mice.

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Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Wuerzburg, Koellikerstrasse 6, 97070 Wuerzburg, Germany.


Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) is primarily regarded as an astrocytic lesion factor, promoting neuronal survival and influencing plasticity processes in deafferented areas of the CNS. Postnatal loss of neurons in CNTF-deficient mice indicates a function of the factor also under physiological conditions. In the olfactory bulb, where neurogenesis, axo- and synaptogenesis continue throughout life, CNTF content is constitutively high. The cellular localization of CNTF in the rat olfactory bulb is not fully resolved, and species differences between mouse and rat are not yet characterized. In the present study, four different CNTF antibodies and double immunolabeling with specific markers for glial and neuronal cells were used to study the cellular localization of CNTF in rat and mouse olfactory bulb. Specificity of the detection was checked with tissue from CNTF-deficient mice, and investigations were complemented by immunolocalization of reporter protein in mice synthesizing beta-galactosidase under control of the CNTF promoter (CNTF lacZ-knock-in mice). In both species, CNTF localized to ensheathing cell nuclei, cell bodies and axon-enveloping processes. Additionally, individual axons of olfactory neurons were CNTF immunoreactive. Both CNTF protein content and immunoreaction intensity were lower in mice than in rats. Scattered lightly CNTF-reactive cells were found in the granular and external plexiform layers in rats. Some CNTF-positive cells were associated with immunoreactivity for the polysialylated form of the neural cell adhesion molecule, which is expressed by maturing interneurons derived from the rostral migratory stream. In CNTF lacZ-knock-in mice, beta-galactosidase reactivity was found in ensheathing cells of the olfactory nerve layer, and in cells of the glomerular, external plexiform and granular layers. The study proves that CNTF is localized in glial and neuronal structures in the rodent olfactory bulb. Results in mice provide a basis for investigations concerning the effects of a lack of the factor in CNTF-deficient mice.

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