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Development. 1993 Jul;118(3):989-1001.

Different neurotrophins are expressed and act in a developmental sequence to promote the survival of embryonic sensory neurons.

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Department of Anatomy, St. George's Hospital Medical School, Tooting, London, UK.


To investigate if different neurotrophins regulate the survival of neurons at successive developmental stages, we studied the effect of nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) on the survival of mouse trigeminal neurons at closely staged intervals in development. We show that during the earliest stages of target field innervation trigeminal neurons display a transitory survival response to BDNF and NT-3. This response is lost as the neurons become NGF-dependent shortly before neuronal death begins in the trigeminal ganglion. BDNF and NT-3 mRNAs are expressed in the peripheral trigeminal target field before the arrival of the earliest axons and the onset of NGF mRNA expression. The levels of BDNF and NT-3 mRNAs peak during the early stages of target field innervation and decline shortly after the loss of neuronal responsiveness to BDNF and NT-3. Our study provides the first clear evidence that different target-derived neurotrophins can act sequentially to promote the survival of developing neurons.

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