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J Neurosci Res. 1994 Dec 15;39(6):634-45.

Neurite outgrowth and GAP-43 mRNA expression in cultured adult rat dorsal root ganglion neurons: effects of NGF or prior peripheral axotomy.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London.


Adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells are capable of neurite outgrowth in vivo and in vitro after axotomy. We have investigated, in cultured adult rat DRG cells, the relative influence of nerve growth factor (NGF) or a prior peripheral nerve lesion on the capacity of these neurons to produce neurites. Since there is evidence suggesting that the growth-associated protein GAP-43 may play a crucial role in axon elongation during development and regeneration, we have also compared the effect of these treatments on GAP-43 mRNA expression. NGF increased the early neurite outgrowth in a subpopulation of DRG cells. This effect was substantially less, however, than that resulting from preaxotomy, which initiated an early and profuse neurite outgrowth in almost all cells. No difference in the expression of GAP-43 mRNA was found between neurons grown in the presence or absence of NGF over 1 week of culture, in spite of the increased growth produced by NGF. In contrast, cultures of neurons that had been preaxotomized showed substantial increases in GAP-43 mRNA and NGF had, as expected, a significant effect on substance P mRNA levels. Two forms of growth may be present in adult DRG neurons: an NGF-independent, peripheral nerve injury-provoked growth associated with substantial GAP-43 upregulation, and an NGF-dependent growth that may underlie branching or sprouting of NGF-sensitive neurons, but which is not associated with increased levels of GAP-43 mRNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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