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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2004 Apr;22(2):113-7.

Neurotrophins and extracellular matrix molecules modulate sensory axon outgrowth.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Neuroscience Research Center, Humboldt University Hospital Charité, Central Campus, Hufelandweg 14, 10117 Berlin, Germany.


Neurotrophins have been known to play a pivotal role in axonal guidance. Recent research has implicated the role of extracelluar matrix molecules in co-ordinating axonal movement. In this study, we examined the influence of neurotrophins (nerve growth factor (NGF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3)) and extracellular matrix molecules (laminin, fibronectin, and poly-l-lysin) on sensory neurite outgrowth in thoracic dorsal root ganglia (DRG) dissected from rats at embryonic day 13. Adjacent DRG were embedded in a collagen gel matrix and supplemented with NGF or NT-3. Under NT-3 conditions, DRG axons extended towards each other and intermingled, while neurites from NGF-treated DRG demonstrated a strong repellent effect, resulting in turning responses and growth cone collapse. This effect was not observed on a collagen culture surface. Interestingly, the composition of the extracellular matrix strongly influenced the observed repellent effect. Sensory neurites from NGF-stimulated DRG again demonstrated a repellent effect when plated on a laminin surface, but showed intermingling behavior when plated on poly-l-lysin or fibronectin. This observation suggests that a factor secreted by NGF-treated DRG axons interacts with laminin, enabling repulsion. This factor and its interaction with the extracellular matrix play an important role in the mechanism of sensory axonal pathfinding.

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