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J Comp Neurol. 1992 May 15;319(3):454-62.

The localization of nerve growth factor-like immunoreactivity in the adult rat basal forebrain and hippocampal formation.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093.


The role of nerve growth factor (NGF) as a target derived neurotrophic agent for specific cell populations in the peripheral nervous system has been well documented and much evidence suggests that NGF may serve a similar neurotrophic role in the CNS supporting the cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain. Previous attempts to localize NGF by immunocytochemical methods, however, have not yielded evidence confirming the regional distribution expected based upon reported levels of extractable NGF. In the present study, affinity purified polyclonal antibodies to beta-NGF and a modified immunohistochemical protocol were used to demonstrate specific NGF-like immunoreactivity in the adult rat hippocampal formation and basal forebrain. In the hippocampal formation, NGF-like immunoreactivity was localized primarily within the hilus of the dentate gyrus and within stratum lucidum of the CA3 and CA2 hippocampal subfields. Staining appeared to be associated with cell processes and was similar to the reported distribution of mossy fibers suggesting that granule cells may either serve as a primary source of hippocampal NGF or that mossy fibers selectively accumulate NGF produced by other cell populations. In the basal forebrain, NGF-like immunoreactivity was localized within neuronal cell bodies of the medial septum, diagonal band, and nucleus basalis of Meynert and was further demonstrated to colocalize exclusively with LNGF-R positive neurons. These findings demonstrate the presence of an NGF-like antigen in association with cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain and strongly support the hypothesis that NGF may serve as an endogenous trophic factor for this adult neuronal population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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