NGF effects on developing forebrain cholinergic neurons are regionally specific

Research paper by Michael V. Johnston, J. Lynn Rutkowski, Bruce H. Wainer, Joseph B. Long, William C. Mobley

Indexed on: 01 Nov '87Published on: 01 Nov '87Published in: Neurochemical Research


Nerve growth factor (NGF) has been shown to have an effect on neurons in the central nervous system (CNS). A number of observations suggest that NGF acts as a trophic factor for cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain and the caudate-putamen. We sought to further characterize the CNS actions of NGF by examining its effect on choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity in the cell bodies and fibers of developing neurons of the septum and caudate-putamen. ChAT activity was increased after even a single NGF injection. Interestingly, the magnitude of the effect of multiple NGF injections suggested that repeated treatments may augment NGF actions on these neurons. The time-course of the response to NGF was followed after a single injection on postnatal day (PD) 2. NGF treatment produced long-lasting increases in ChAT activity in septum, hippocampus and caudate-putamen. The response in cell body regions (septum, caudate-putamen) was characterized by an initial lag period of approximately 24 hr, a rapid rise to maximum values, a plateau phase and a return to baseline. The response in hippocampus was delayed by 48 hr relative to that in septum, indicating that NGF actions on ChAT were first registered in septal cell bodies. Finally, developmental events were shown to have a regionally specific influence on the response of neurons to NGF. For though the septal response to a single NGF injection was undiminished well into the third postnatal week, little or no response was detected in caudate-putamen at that time. In highlighting the potency and regional specificity of NGF effects, these observations provide additional, support for the hypothesis that NGF is a trophic factor for CNS cholinergic neurons.