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J Comp Neurol. 1991 Apr 15;306(3):439-46.

Nerve growth factor mRNA-containing cells are distributed within regions of cholinergic neurons in the rat basal forebrain.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine 92717.


It has been proposed that nerve growth factor (NGF) provides critical trophic support for the cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain and that it becomes available to these neurons by retrograde transport from distant forebrain targets. However, neurochemical studies have detected low levels of NGF mRNA within basal forebrain areas of normal and experimental animals, thus suggesting that some NGF synthesis may actually occur within the region of the responsive cholinergic cells. In the present study with in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical techniques, the distribution of cells containing NGF mRNA within basal forebrain was compared with the distribution of cholinergic perikarya. The localization o NGF mRNA was examined by using a 35S-labeled RNA probe complementary to rat preproNGF mRNA and emulsion autoradiography. Hybridization of the NGF cRNA labeled a large number of cells within the anterior olfactory nucleus and the piriform cortex as well as neurons in a continuous zone spanning the lateral aspects of both the horizontal limb of the diagonal band of Broca and the magnocellular preoptic nucleus. In the latter regions, large autoradiographic grain clusters labeled relatively large Nissl-pale nuclei; it did not appear that glial cells were autoradiographically labeled. Comparison of adjacent tissue sections processed for in situ hybridization to NGF mRNA and immunohistochemical localization of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) demonstrated overlapping fields of cRNA-labeled neurons and ChAT immunoreactive perikarya in both the horizontal limb of the diagonal band and magnocellular preoptic regions. However, no hybridization of the cRNA probe was observed in other principal cholinergic regions including the medial septum, the vertical limb of the diagonal band, or the nucleus basalis of Meynert.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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