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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jul 6;107(27):12299-304. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1007181107. Epub 2010 Jun 21.

Dissecting the involvement of tropomyosin-related kinase A and p75 neurotrophin receptor signaling in NGF deficit-induced neurodegeneration.

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European Brain Research Institute, 00143 Rome, Italy.


NGF, the principal neurotrophic factor for basal forebrain cholinergic neurons (BFCNs), has been correlated to Alzheimer's disease (AD) because of the selective vulnerability of BFCNs in AD. These correlative links do not substantiate a comprehensive cause-effect mechanism connecting NGF deficit to overall AD neurodegeneration. A demonstration that neutralizing NGF activity could have consequences beyond a direct interference with the cholinergic system came from studies in the AD11 mouse model, in which the expression of a highly specific anti-NGF antibody determines a neurodegeneration that encompasses several features of human AD. Because the transgenic antibody binds to mature NGF much more strongly than to proNGF and prevents binding of mature NGF to the tropomyosin-related kinase A (TrkA) receptor and to p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR), we postulated that neurodegeneration in AD11 mice is provoked by an imbalance of proNGF/NGF signaling and, consequently, of TrkA/p75NTR signaling. To test this hypothesis, in this study we characterize the phenotype of two lines of transgenic mice, one in which TrkA signaling is inhibited by neutralizing anti-TrkA antibodies and a second one in which anti-NGF mice were crossed to p75NTR(exonIII(-/-)) mice to abrogate p75NTR signaling. TrkA neutralization determines a strong cholinergic deficit and the appearance of beta-amyloid peptide (Abeta) but no tau-related pathology. In contrast, abrogating p75NTR signaling determines a full rescue of the cholinergic and Abeta phenotype of anti-NGF mice, but tau hyperphosphorylation is exacerbated. Thus, we demonstrate that inhibiting TrkA signaling activates Abeta accumulation and that different streams of AD neurodegeneration are related in complex ways to TrkA versus p75NTR signaling.

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