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Frontiers in cellular neuroscience

Nerve growth factor is primarily produced by GABAergic neurons of the adult rat cortex.


PMID 25147503

Abstract

Within the cortex, nerve growth factor (NGF) mediates the innervation of cholinergic neurons during development, maintains cholinergic corticopetal projections during adulthood and modulates cholinergic function through phenotypic control of the cholinergic gene locus. Recent studies suggest NGF may also play an important role in cortical plasticity in adulthood. Previously, NGF-producing cells have been shown to colocalize with GABAergic cell markers within the hippocampus, striatum, and basal forebrain. Classification of cells producing NGF in the cortex is lacking, however, and cholinergic corticopetal projections have been shown to innervate both pyramidal and GABAergic neurons in the cortex. In order to clarify potential trophic interactions between cortical neurons and cholinergic projections, we used double-fluorescent immunohistochemistry to classify NGF-expressing cells in several cortical regions, including the prefrontal cortex, primary motor cortex, parietal cortex and temporal cortex. Our results show that NGF colocalizes extensively with GABAergic cell markers in all cortical regions examined, with >91% of NGF-labeled cells coexpressing GAD65/67. Conversely, NGF-labeled cells exhibit very little co-localization with the excitatory cell marker CaMKIIα (<5% of cells expressing NGF). NGF expression was present in 56% of GAD-labeled cells, suggesting that production is confined to a specific subset of GABAergic neurons. These findings demonstrate that GABAergic cells are the primary source of NGF production in the cortex, and likely support the maintenance and function of basal forebrain cholinergic projections in adulthood.