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1.  Regulation of nerve growth factor receptor gene expression by nerve growth factor in the developing peripheral nervous system 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1991;112(2):303-312.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a target-derived neurotrophic protein that promotes the survival and growth of developing sympathetic and sensory neurons. We have examined NGF receptor gene expression in these neurons after NGF administration. Northern blot and in situ hybridization analyses demonstrated that NGF given systemically to neonatal rats increased levels of NGF receptor mRNA in sympathetic neurons within the superior cervical ganglion. This increase was accompanied by a differential regulation of genes associated with neurotransmitter phenotype; tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA was increased, but neuropeptide Y mRNA was not. NGF receptor mRNA levels were also increased in L4-L5 dorsal root ganglia, although this mRNA was not expressed uniformly in sensory neurons of control or NGF-treated animals. Levels of T alpha 1 alpha-tubulin mRNA, a marker of neuronal growth, also increased. In contrast to developing neurons, systemic NGF did not increase NGF receptor mRNA in nonneuronal cells of the sciatic nerve. To determine if NGF regulated NGF receptor gene expression at the transcriptional level, we examined PC12 cells. NGF treatment for 6 h increased NGF receptor mRNA fourfold; this increase was inhibited by cycloheximide. Nuclear run-off transcription assays demonstrated that the increase in steady-state NGF receptor mRNA levels was mediated at the transcriptional level. In contrast, although NGF treatment increased steady-state tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA levels, this effect was not blocked by cycloheximide, and was not due to increased transcription. These data raise the possibility that transcriptional regulation of NGF receptor gene expression by target-derived NGF could be a molecular mechanism for potentiating NGF's effects on neurons during developmental periods of neuronal competition and cell death.
PMCID: PMC2288812  PMID: 1671048
2.  Extrinsic and intrinsic signals converge on the Runx1/CBFβ transcription factor for nonpeptidergic nociceptor maturation 
eLife  null;4:e10874.
The generation of diverse neuronal subtypes involves specification of neural progenitors and, subsequently, postmitotic neuronal differentiation, a relatively poorly understood process. Here, we describe a mechanism whereby the neurotrophic factor NGF and the transcription factor Runx1 coordinate postmitotic differentiation of nonpeptidergic nociceptors, a major nociceptor subtype. We show that the integrity of a Runx1/CBFβ holocomplex is crucial for NGF-dependent nonpeptidergic nociceptor maturation. NGF signals through the ERK/MAPK pathway to promote expression of Cbfb but not Runx1 prior to maturation of nonpeptidergic nociceptors. In contrast, transcriptional initiation of Runx1 in nonpeptidergic nociceptor precursors is dependent on the homeodomain transcription factor Islet1, which is largely dispensable for Cbfb expression. Thus, an NGF/TrkA-MAPK-CBFβ pathway converges with Islet1-Runx1 signaling to promote Runx1/CBFβ holocomplex formation and nonpeptidergic nociceptor maturation. Convergence of extrinsic and intrinsic signals to control heterodimeric transcription factor complex formation provides a robust mechanism for postmitotic neuronal subtype specification.
eLife digest
Animals detect and respond to their environment using their sensory nervous system, which forms through a complex, multi-step process. A precursor nerve cell’s fate is set early in its development, and determines the different nerve types it can become. As development progresses, sensory nerve cells develop further into distinct subtypes that perform particular tasks, such as responding to touch or pain.
Nociceptors are the specialised sensory nerves that respond to potentially harmful stimuli. They form two distinct subtypes: peptidergic nerves detect potentially dangerous temperatures, whereas non-peptidergic nerves detect potentially dangerous mechanical sensations. Both subtypes originate from the same precursor nerve cell and both initially depend on an external molecule called NGF for their development and survival. During their development, non-peptidergic neurons stop responding to NGF and start producing a protein called Runx1, considered to be the ‘master regulator’ of non-peptidergic nerve cell development. Runx1 works by forming a complex with another protein called CBFbβ, and this complex activates a program of gene expression that is specific to non-peptidergic nerves. However it was unclear how an external signal, like NGF, can coordinate with or influence a nerve cell’s internal genetic program during the nerve’s development. It was also not known whether NGF and Runx1 interact with each other.
By studying non-peptidergic nerve cell development in mice that lack NGF, Runx1 and other associated proteins, Huang et al. have now established the sequence of events that regulate the development of this nerve cell subtype. Two signalling pathways converge to switch on non-peptidergic nerve cell development. An NGF-driven signalling pathway activates the production of CBFβ, while another protein binds to the Runx1 gene to switch it on. This leads to the production of the Runx1 and CBFβ proteins that complex together to activate the non-peptidergic neuronal genetic program.
These findings demonstrate how two different mechanisms converge to produce the component parts of a complex, which then activates a genetic program that drives the development of a particular neuronal subtype. Whether this mechanism is involved in determining the fate of other cell types remains a question for future work.
PMCID: PMC4657622  PMID: 26418744
NGF; Runx1/CBFB; nociceptor differentiation; convergence of extrinsic and intrinsic factors; Mouse
3.  proNGF/NGF mixtures induce gene expression changes in PC12 cells that neither singly produces 
BMC Neuroscience  2014;15:48.
Growing evidence shows that, in vivo, the precursor of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), proNGF, displays biological activities different from those of its mature NGF counterpart, mediated by distinct, and somewhat complementary, receptor binding properties. NGF and proNGF induce distinct transcriptional signatures in target cells, highlighting their different bioactivities. In vivo, proNGF and mature NGF coexist. It was proposed that the relative proNGF/NGF ratio is important for their biological outcomes, especially in pathological conditions, since proNGF, the principal form of NGF in Central Nervous System (CNS), is increased in Alzheimer’s disease brains. These observations raise a relevant question: does proNGF, in the presence of NGF, influence the NGF transcriptional response and viceversa? In order to understand the specific proNGF effect on NGF activity, depending on the relative proNGF/NGF concentration, we investigated whether proNGF affects the pattern of well-known NGF-regulated mRNAs.
To test any influence of proNGF on pure NGF expression fingerprinting, the expression level of a set of candidate genes was analysed by qReal-Time PCR in rat adrenal pheochromocytoma cell line PC12, treated with a mixture of NGF and proNGF recombinant proteins, in different stoichiometric ratios. These candidates were selected amongst a set of genes well-known as being rapidly induced by NGF treatment. We found that, when PC12 cells are treated with proNGF/NGF mixtures, a unique pattern of gene expression, which does not overlap with that deriving from treatment with either proNGF or NGF alone, is induced. The specific effect is also dependent on the stoichiometric composition of the mixture. The proNGF/NGF equimolar mixture seems to partially neutralize the specific effects of the proNGF or NGF individual treatments, showing a weaker overall response, compared to the individual contributions of NGF and proNGF alone.
Using gene expression as a functional read-out, our data demonstrate that the relative availability of NGF and proNGF in vivo might modulate the biological outcome of these ligands.
PMCID: PMC4098786  PMID: 24713110
PC12; NGF; proNGF; Neurotrophin; Early genes; Gene expression; Transcription; NGF/proNGF ratio
4.  Region-specific role of growth differentiation factor-5 in the establishment of sympathetic innervation 
Neural Development  2016;11:4.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) is the prototypical target-derived neurotrophic factor required for sympathetic neuron survival and for the growth and ramification of sympathetic axons within most but not all sympathetic targets. This implies the operation of additional target-derived factors for regulating terminal sympathetic axon growth and branching.
Here report that growth differentiation factor 5 (GDF5), a widely expressed member of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) superfamily required for limb development, promoted axon growth from mouse superior cervical ganglion (SCG) neurons independently of NGF and enhanced axon growth in combination with NGF. GDF5 had no effect on neuronal survival and influenced axon growth during a narrow window of postnatal development when sympathetic axons are ramifying extensively in their targets in vivo. SCG neurons expressed all receptors capable of participating in GDF5 signaling at this stage of development. Using compartment cultures, we demonstrated that GDF5 exerted its growth promoting effect by acting directly on axons and by initiating retrograde canonical Smad signalling to the nucleus. GDF5 is synthesized in sympathetic targets, and examination of several anatomically circumscribed tissues in Gdf5 null mice revealed regional deficits in sympathetic innervation. There was a marked, highly significant reduction in the sympathetic innervation density of the iris, a smaller though significant reduction in the trachea, but no reduction in the submandibular salivary gland. There was no reduction in the number of neurons in the SCG.
These findings show that GDF5 is a novel target-derived factor that promotes sympathetic axon growth and branching and makes a distinctive regional contribution to the establishment of sympathetic innervation, but unlike NGF, plays no role in regulating sympathetic neuron survival.
PMCID: PMC4755026  PMID: 26878848
Sympathetic neuron; Axon growth; Innervation; GDF5
5.  Comparison of the neuropoietic activity of gene-modified versus parental mesenchymal stromal cells and the identification of soluble and extracellular matrix-related neuropoietic mediators 
Transplanting mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) or their derivatives into a neurodegenerative environment is believed to be beneficial because of the trophic support, migratory guidance, immunosuppression, and neurogenic stimuli they provide. SB623, a cell therapy for the treatment of chronic stroke, currently in a clinical trial, is derived from bone marrow MSCs by using transient transfection with a vector encoding the human Notch1 intracellular domain. This creates a new phenotype, which is effective in experimental stroke, exhibits immunosuppressive and angiogenic activity equal or superior to parental MSCs in vitro, and produces extracellular matrix (ECM) that is exceptionally supportive for neural cell growth. The neuropoietic activity of SB623 and parental MSCs has not been compared, and the SB623-derived neuropoietic mediators have not been identified.
SB623 or parental MSCs were cocultured with rat embryonic brain cortex cells on cell-derived ECM in a previously characterized quantitative neuropoiesis assay. Changes in expression of rat neural differentiation markers were quantified by using rat-specific qRT-PCR. Human mediators were identified by using expression profiling, an enzymatic crosslinking activity, and functional interference studies by means of blocking antibodies, biologic inhibitors, and siRNA. Cocultures were immunolabeled for presynaptic vesicular transporters to assess neuronal specialization.
Among six MSC/SB623 pairs, SB623 induced expression of rat neural precursor, oligodendrocyte, and astrocyte markers on average 2.6 to 3 times stronger than did their parental MSCs. SB623 expressed significantly higher FGF2, FGF1, and BMP4, and lower FGFR1 and FGFR2 levels; and human FGF1, FGF2, BMPs, and HGF were implicated as neuropoietic mediators. Neural precursors grew faster on SB623- than on MSC-derived ECM. SB623 exhibited higher expression levels and crosslinking activity of tissue transglutaminase (TGM2). TGM2 silencing reduced neural precursor growth on SB623-ECM. SB623 also promoted the induction of GABA-ergic, but not glutamatergic, neurons more effectively than did MSCs.
These data demonstrate that SB623 cells tend to support neural cell growth more effectively than their parental MSCs and identify both soluble and insoluble mediators responsible, at least in part, for enhanced neuropoietic potency of SB623. The neuropoiesis assay is a useful tool for identifying beneficial factors produced by MSCs and their derivatives.
PMCID: PMC4055059  PMID: 24572070
6.  Peripheral Nerve Regeneration and NGF-Dependent Neurite Outgrowth of Adult Sensory Neurons Converge on STAT3 Phosphorylation Downstream of Neuropoietic Cytokine Receptor gp130 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(39):13222-13233.
After nerve injury, adult sensory neurons can regenerate peripheral axons and reconnect with their target tissue. Initiation of outgrowth, as well as elongation of neurites over long distances, depends on the signaling of receptors for neurotrophic growth factors. Here, we investigated the importance of gp130, the signaling subunit of neuropoietic cytokine receptors in peripheral nerve regeneration.
After sciatic nerve crush, functional recovery in vivo was retarded in SNS-gp130−/− mice, which specifically lack gp130 in sensory neurons. Correspondingly, a significantly reduced number of free nerve endings was detected in glabrous skin from SNS-gp130−/− compared with control mice after nerve crush. Neurite outgrowth and STAT3 activation in vitro were severely reduced in cultures in gp130-deficient cultured neurons. Surprisingly, in neurons obtained from SNS-gp130−/− mice the increase in neurite length was reduced not only in response to neuropoietic cytokine ligands of gp130 but also to nerve growth factor (NGF), which does not bind to gp130-containing receptors. Neurite outgrowth in the absence of neurotrophic factors was partially rescued in gp130-deficient neurons by leptin, which activates STAT3 downstream of leptic receptor and independent of gp130. The neurite outgrowth response of gp130-deficient neurons to NGF was fully restored in the presence of leptin.
Based on these findings, gp130 signaling via STAT3 activation is suggested not only to be an important regulator of peripheral nerve regeneration in vitro and in vivo, but as determining factor for the growth promoting action of NGF in adult sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC4172810  PMID: 25253866
cytokines; gp130; NGF; PNS; regeneration; STAT3
7.  Nerve growth factor regulates both the phosphorylation and steady-state levels of microtubule-associated protein 1.2 (MAP1.2) 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1988;106(5):1573-1581.
This study characterizes effects of nerve growth factor (NGF) on the steady-state level and phosphorylation of a high molecular mass microtubule-associated protein in PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells. Past work showed that NGF significantly raises the relative levels of this phosphoprotein, designated MAP1.2, with a time course similar to that of neurite outgrowth. To study this in greater detail, MAP1.2 in PC12 cell lysates was resolved by SDS-PAGE in gels containing 3.25% acrylamide/4 M urea and identified by comigration with material immunoprecipitated from the lysates by MAP1 antibodies. Quantification by metabolic radiolabeling with [35S]methionine or by silver staining revealed a 3.0-3.5-fold increase in MAP1.2 levels relative to total cell protein after NGF treatment for 2 wk or longer. A partial increase was detectable after 3 d, but not after 2 h of NGF exposure. As measured by incorporation of [32P]phosphate, NGF had a dual effect on MAP1.2. Within 15 min to 2 h, NGF enhanced the incorporation of phosphate into MAP1.2 by two- to threefold relative to total cell phosphoproteins. This value slowly increased thereafter so that by 2 wk or more of NGF exposure, the average enhancement of phosphate incorporation per MAP1.2 molecule was over fourfold. The rapid action of NGF on MAP1.2 could not be mimicked by either epidermal growth factor, a permeant cAMP derivative, phorbol ester, or elevated K+, each of which alters phosphorylation of other PC12 cell proteins. SDS-PAGE revealed multiple forms of MAP1.2 which, based on the effects of alkaline phosphatase on their electrophoretic mobilities, differ, at least in part, in extent of phosphorylation. Before NGF treatment, most PC12 cell MAP1.2 is in more rapidly migrating, relatively poorly phosphorylated forms. After long-term NGF exposure, most is in more slowly migrating, more highly phosphorylated forms. The effects of NGF on the rapid phosphorylation of MAP1.2 and on the long-term large increase in highly phosphorylated MAP1.2 forms could play major functional roles in NGF-mediated neuronal differentiation. Such roles may include effects on microtubule assembly, stability, and cross- linking and, possibly for the rapid effects, nuclear signaling.
PMCID: PMC2115037  PMID: 3372590
8.  Signaling pathways mediating a selective induction of nitric oxide synthase II by tumor necrosis factor alpha in nerve growth factor-responsive cells 
Inflammation and oxidative stress play a critical role in neurodegeneration associated with acute and chronic insults of the nervous system. Notably, affected neurons are often responsive to and dependent on trophic factors such as nerve growth factor (NGF). We previously showed in NGF-responsive PC12 cells that tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and NGF synergistically induce the expression of the free-radical producing enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). We proposed that NGF-responsive neurons might be selectively exposed to iNOS-mediated oxidative damage as a consequence of elevated TNFα levels. With the aim of identifying possible therapeutic targets, in the present study we investigated the signaling pathways involved in NGF/TNFα-promoted iNOS induction.
Western blotting, RT-PCR, transcription factor-specific reporter gene systems, mutant cells lacking the low affinity p75NTR NGF receptor and transfections of TNFα/NGF chimeric receptors were used to investigate signalling events associated with NGF/TNFα-promoted iNOS induction in PC12 cells.
Our results show that iNOS expression resulting from NGF/TNFα combined treatment can be elicited in PC12 cells. Mutant PC12 cells lacking p75NTR did not respond, suggesting that p75NTR is required to mediate iNOS expression. Furthermore, cells transfected with chimeric TNFα/NGF receptors demonstrated that the simultaneous presence of both p75NTR and TrkA signaling is necessary to synergize with TNFα to mediate iNOS expression. Lastly, our data show that NGF/TNFα-promoted iNOS induction requires activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB).
Collectively, our in vitro model suggests that cells bearing both the high and low affinity NGF receptors may display increased sensitivity to TNFα in terms of iNOS expression and therefore be selectively at risk during acute (e.g. neurotrauma) or chronic (e.g. neurodegenerative diseases) conditions where high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the nervous system occur pathologically. Our results also suggest that modulation of NFκB-promoted transcription of selective genes could serve as a potential therapeutic target to prevent neuroinflammation-induced neuronal damage.
PMCID: PMC1242246  PMID: 16144552
9.  Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Vector-Mediated Expression of Nerve Growth Factor Protects Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons from Peroxide Toxicity 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(1):519-532.
Nerve growth factor β subunit (β-NGF) transgene delivery and expression by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) vectors was examined in a cell culture model of neuroprotection from hydrogen peroxide toxicity. Replication-competent (tk− K mutant background) and replication-defective (ICP4−;tk− S mutant background) vectors were engineered to contain the murine β-NGF cDNA under transcriptional control of either the human cytomegalovirus immediate-early gene promoter (HCMV IEp) (e.g., KHN and SHN) or the latency-active promoter 2 (LAP2) (e.g., KLN and SLN) within the viral thymidine kinase (tk) locus. Infection of rat B103 and mouse N2A neuronal cell lines, 9L rat glioma cells, and Vero cells with the KHN or SHN vectors resulted in the production of β-NGF-specific transcripts and β-NGF protein reaching a maximum at 3 days postinfection (p.i.). NGF protein was released into the culture media in amounts ranging from 10.83 to 352.86 ng/ml, with the highest levels being achieved in B103 cells, and was capable of inducing neurite sprouting of PC-12 cells. The same vectors produced high levels of NGF in primary dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cultures at 3 days. In contrast to HCMV IEp-mediated expression, the LAP2-NGF vectors showed robust expression in primary DRG neurons at 14 days. The neuroprotective effect of vector produced NGF was assessed by its ability to inhibit hydrogen peroxide-induced neuron toxicity in primary DRG cultures. Consistent with the kinetics of vector-mediated NGF expression, HCMV-NGF vectors were effective in abrogating the toxic effects of peroxide at 3 but not 14 days p.i. whereas LAP2-NGF vector transduction inhibited apoptosis in DRG neurons at 14 days p.i. but was ineffective at 3 days p.i. Similar kinetics of NGF expression were observed with the KHN and KLN vectors in latently infected mouse trigeminal ganglia, where high levels of β-NGF protein expression were detected at 4 wks p.i. only from the LAP2; HCMV-NGF-driven expression peaked at 3 days but could not be detected during HSV latency at 4 weeks. Together, these results indicate that (i) NGF vector-infected cells produce and secrete mature, biologically active β-NGF; (ii) vector-synthesized NGF was capable of blocking peroxide-induced apoptosis in primary DRG cultures; and (iii) the HCMV-IEp functioned to produce high levels of NGF for several days; but (iv) only the native LAP2 was capable of long-term expression of a therapeutic gene product in latently infected neurons in vivo.
PMCID: PMC103859  PMID: 9847358
10.  Identification of novel target genes of nerve growth factor (NGF) in human mastocytoma cell line (HMC-1 (V560G c-Kit)) by transcriptome analysis 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:196.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a potent growth factor that plays a key role in neuronal cell differentiation and may also play a role in hematopoietic differentiation. It has been shown that NGF induced synergistic action for the colony formation of CD34 positive hematopoietic progenitor cells treated with macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF or CSF-1), or stem cell factor (SCF). However, the exact role of NGF in hematopoietic system is unclear. It is also not clear whether NGF mediated signals in hematopoietic cells are identical to those in neuronal cells.
To study the signal transduction pathways induced by NGF treatment in hematopoietic cells, we utilized the mastocytoma cell line HMC-1(V560G c-Kit) which expresses the NGF receptor, tropomyosin-receptor-kinase (Trk)A, as well as the constitutively activated SCF receptor, V560G c-Kit, which can be inhibited completely by treatment with the potent tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib mesylate (imatinib). NGF rescues HMC-1(V560G c-Kit) cells from imatinib mediated cell death and promotes proliferation. To examine the NGF mediated proliferation and survival in these cells, we compared the NGF mediated upregulated genes (30 and 120 min after stimulation) to the downregulated genes by imatinib treatment (downregulation of c-Kit activity for 4 h) by transcriptome analysis. The following conclusions can be drawn from the microarray data: Firstly, gene expression profiling reveals 50% overlap of genes induced by NGF-TrkA with genes expressed downstream of V560G c-Kit. Secondly, NGF treatment does not enhance expression of genes involved in immune related functions that were down regulated by imatinib treatment. Thirdly, more than 55% of common upregulated genes are involved in cell proliferation and survival. Fourthly, we found Kruppel-like factor (KLF) 2 and Smad family member 7 (SMAD7) as the NGF mediated novel downstream genes in hematopoietic cells. Finally, the downregulation of KLF2 gene enhanced imatinib induced apoptosis.
NGF does not induce genes which are involved in immune related functions, but induces proliferation and survival signals in HMC-1(V560G c-Kit) cells. Furthermore, the current data provide novel candidate genes, KLF2 and SMAD7 which are induced by NGF/TrkA activation in hematopoietic cells. Since the depletion of KLF2 causes enhanced apoptosis of HMC-1(V560G c-Kit), KLF2 may play a role in the NGF mediated survival signal.
PMCID: PMC3088908  PMID: 21501463
11.  The herpes simplex virus type 1 latency-associated transcript promoter is activated through Ras and Raf by nerve growth factor and sodium butyrate in PC12 cells. 
Journal of Virology  1996;70(11):7424-7432.
Herpes simplex virus establishes latent infections in the nuclei of sensory neurons. These infections are characterized by the abundant expression of a series of 5' coterminal transcripts termed the latency-associated transcripts (LATs). Available evidence indicates that LAT expression is specifically regulated in latently infected neurons. Although previous studies have examined the regulation of LAT expression in neuronal and nonneuronal cells, the mechanism of regulation of LAT expression in neuronal cells in response to external factors has not been investigated. To address this question, we characterized the activity of LAT promoter fusion constructs in PC12 cells following treatment with nerve growth factor (NGF) and/or sodium butyrate (NaB), agents that affect expression of cell cycle-associated genes. Expression from the LAT promoter was induced 8- to 12-fold by either NGF or NaB alone and 40- to 60-fold when the two agents were added simultaneously. Fibroblast growth factor also induced expression from the LAT promoter but to a lesser extent than NGF. Treatment with factors such as epidermal growth factor, phorbol myristate acetate, cyclic AMP, or KCI had no significant effect on LAT promoter activity. Notably, promoter-reporter constructs containing immediate-early (ICP0 and ICP4), early (ICP8 and UL9), and late (UL10 and UL30) viral promoters were induced only two- to fourfold by NGF, suggesting that the LAT promoter may be unusual among herpes simplex virus genes in the magnitude of its response to this factor. To identify pathways leading to LAT activation in vitro, we characterized the response of the LAT promoter to NGF and/or NaB in PC12-derived cell lines containing mutations in specific signal transduction pathways. We found that activation of the LAT promoter requires Ras activation and that activation of the serine/threonine kinase, Raf, is sufficient to induce LAT expression. Together, these results indicate that the LAT promoter is regulated via the Ras/Raf signal transduction pathway in response to external factors such as NGF and NaB and that LAT expression may be regulated by NGF in latently infected neurons.
PMCID: PMC190809  PMID: 8892860
12.  Nerve growth factor and Trk high affinity receptor (TrkA) gene expression in inflammatory bowel disease 
Gut  2000;46(5):670-679.
BACKGROUND—Nerve growth factor (NGF), a target derived factor for survival and maintenance of peripheral and central neurones, has been implicated in several chronic inflammatory processes.
AIMS—To analyse the concomitant presence of NGF and its high affinity receptor TrkA in patients undergoing surgery for Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC).
PATIENTS—CD tissues were obtained from 33 patients and UC tissue samples from 12 patients undergoing surgery. Normal intestinal tissue samples were obtained from 30 individuals through an organ donor programme.
METHODS—Expression of NGF and TrkA was studied by northern blot analysis. Using in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry, the respective mRNA moieties and proteins were localised. Western blot analysis was used to confirm the specificity of NGF and TrkA antibodies.
RESULTS—In CD, NGF mRNA was increased in 60% (2.4-fold; p<0.01) and TrkA mRNA in 54% (1.3-fold; p<0.05) of samples. In UC, NGF mRNA expression was enhanced in 58% (2.4-fold; p<0.01) and TrkA mRNA expression in 50% (1.5-fold; p<0.05) of samples. In situ hybridisation showed that NGF and TrkA mRNA were often concomitantly present in polymorphonuclear-like cells of the lamina propria, in mast cells, and in a few ganglia of Auerbach's plexus and Meissner's plexus. Immunohistochemistry revealed that lamina propria cells and inflammatory cells (mainly mast cells) were NGF and TrkA immunopositive. NGF was also present in Meissner's plexus (especially in CD) and TrkA in enteric glia surrounding intestinal ganglia.
CONCLUSIONS—The concomitant enhanced expression of NGF and its receptor suggests activation of this pathway in chronic inflammation in CD and UC. The presence of NGF and TrkA in both neural and non-neural structures in CD and UC supports the hypothesis that neuroimmune interactions occur and are activated in both disorders.

Keywords: Crohn's disease; ulcerative colitis; inflammatory bowel disease; neuroimmune interaction; nerve growth factor; TrkA
PMCID: PMC1727937  PMID: 10764711
13.  Astrocyte-derived TGF-beta 2 and NGF differentially regulate neural recognition molecule expression by cultured astrocytes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1991;115(2):473-484.
Because of the importance of neural recognition molecules expressed by glial cells to mediate interactions with neurons, growth factors and cytokines known to be functional during morphogenesis and in diseases of the nervous system were studied for their effects on recognition molecule expression by cultured immature and mature astrocytes from several brain regions. In cultures of immature astrocytes, transforming growth factors-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) and -beta 2 (TGF-beta 2) and nerve growth factor (NGF) increased expression of the neural adhesion molecule L1, leading to a glia-mediated L1-specific increase in neurite outgrowth of dorsal root ganglion neurons on the astrocyte substrate. L1 expression induced by TGF-beta was inhibited by addition of antibodies to NGF, suggesting that TGF-beta influences L1 expression by modulating production of NGF by astrocytes. TGF-beta 1 and -beta 2 decreased expression of N-CAM by immature astrocytes. Since N-CAM expression was not affected by NGF and antibodies to NGF did not abolish the TGF-beta-induced decrease in N-CAM expression, NGF did not appear to be the mediator for regulating expression of N-CAM. Expression of the adhesion molecule on glia (AMOG) was not affected by any factor. NGF and TGF-beta 2 in latent form, but not TGF-beta 1 were found in the culture supernatants. Addition of interferon-gamma (IFN- gamma), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), interleukin-6 (IL-6), platelet- derived growth factor (PDGF), or basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) to the cultures did not change recognition molecule expression. REcognition molecule expression by mature astrocytes was not found to be modified by any of the factors tested. In view of the observation that levels of L1 and N-CAM expression correlated with the presence of TGF-beta 2 and NGF in the culture supernatants of immature astrocytes, an autocrine regulatory mechanism for recognition molecule expression by these cells is suggested to play a crucial role in regulation of neuron-glia interactions.
PMCID: PMC2289154  PMID: 1717486
14.  Concentration-dependent regulation of neuronal gene expression by nerve growth factor 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1992;117(1):135-141.
NGF is a neurotrophic protein that promotes the survival, growth, and differentiation of developing sympathetic neurons. To directly determine the effects of different concentrations of NGF on neuronal gene expression, we examined mRNAs encoding the p75 low-affinity NGF (LNGF) receptor, T alpha 1 alpha-tubulin (T alpha 1), and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in pure cultures of rat sympathetic neurons from postnatal day 1 superior cervical ganglia. Studies of the timecourse of gene expression during 2 wk in culture indicated that a 5-d incubation period would be optimal for the concentration-effect studies. Analysis of RNA isolated from neurons cultured in 2-200 ng/ml 2.5S NGF for 5 d revealed that, as the NGF concentration increased, neurons expressed correspondingly increased levels of all three mRNAs. Both LNGF receptor and TH mRNAs increased seven-fold, and T alpha 1 mRNA increased four- fold in neurons cultured in 200 versus 10 ng/ml NGF. In contrast, T26 alpha-tubulin mRNA, which is constitutively expressed, did not alter as a function of NGF concentration. When neurons were initially cultured in 10 ng/ml NGF for 5 d, and then 200 ng/ml NGF was added, LNGF receptor, T alpha 1, and TH mRNAs all increased within 48 h. The timecourse of induction differed: T alpha 1 mRNA was maximal by 5 h, whereas LNGF receptor and TH mRNAs first began to increase at 12 h after the NGF increase. These experiments show that NGF regulates expression of a subset of mRNAs important to neuronal growth and differentiation over a broad concentration range, suggesting that the effects of NGF may be mediated by more than just a single receptor operating at one fixed affinity. These results also suggest a mechanism for coupling neuronal synthesis of axonal proteins to increases in size of the innervated target territory during growth of the organism.
PMCID: PMC2289402  PMID: 1348250
15.  Neurotrophic factors and their effects in the treatment of multiple sclerosis 
Neurotrophins are small molecules of polypeptides, which include nerve growth factor (NGF) family, glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands, and neuropoietic cytokines. These factors have an important role in neural regeneration, remyelination, and regulating the development of the peripheral and central nervous systems (PNS and CNS, respectively) by intracellular signaling through specific receptors. It has been suggested that the pathogenesis of human neurodegenerative disorders may be due to an alteration in the neurotrophic factors and their receptors. The use of neurotrophic factors as therapeutic agents is a novel strategy for restoring and maintaining neuronal function during neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Innate and adaptive immune responses contribute to pathology of neurodegenerative disorders. Furthermore, autoimmune and mesenchymal stem cells, by the release of neurotrophic factors, have the ability to protect neuronal population and can efficiently suppress the formation of new lesions. So, these cells may be an alternative source for delivering neurotrophic factors into the CNS.
PMCID: PMC4361963  PMID: 25802822
Glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor family ligand; multiple sclerosis; neuropoietic cytokines; nerve growth factor family
16.  Cholecystokinin-8 regulation of NGF concentrations in adult mouse brain through a mechanism involving CCKA and CCKB receptors 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1998;123(6):1230-1236.
Nerve growth factor (NGF), a powerful agent for the growth, differentiation and regeneration of lesioned cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems, has in recent years been indicated as a potential therapeutic agent capable of reversing the processes of cell damage in neurodegenerative events in man. Since NGF does not cross the blood-brain barrier and central NGF administration requires invasive surgical procedures, the discovery of substances modulating in vivo NGF synthesis in the brain will be extremely useful for a possible clinical use of NGF.The aim of the present study to analyse if the content of NGF in the brain of adult mice can be affected by peripheral administration of cholecystokinin-8 (CCK-8), a well known neuropeptide which has stimulant actions on neurons in the brain and promotes a variety of neurobehavioural effects both in man and rodents.The dose-response and time course effects of an i.p. injection of CCK-8 on the NGF concentrations in the hippocampus, cortex, hypothalamus and pituitary of adult male mice were analysed by use of a sensitive immunoenzymatic assay for NGF. The effects of pretreatment with selective CCKA and CCKB receptor antagonists and atropine on the NGF response to CCK injection were also studied.The effects of CCK-8 were dose- and time-dependent and the injection of 8 nmol kg−1 resulted in a 3 fold increase of NGF levels in the hypothalamus and pituitary, and about a 60% increase in the hippocampus. No effects were observed in the cortex. Pretreatment with a selective CCKA receptor antagonist blocked the CCK-induced NGF increase in the hypothalamus and pituitary. In the hippocampus the same effect was obtained with a CCKB receptor antagonist. Pretreatment with atropine suppressed the CCK-induced effects on NGF levels in all the brain regions examined.Our results showing that i.p. injection with CCK-8 can modulate NGF levels in the brain through a mechanism which seems, in part, to be mediated via the vagal afferents, indicate that this neuropeptide may represent a useful pharmacological approach to enhance endogenous NGF levels in neuropathologies associated with a neurotrophin deficit.
PMCID: PMC1565271  PMID: 9559909
Nerve growth factor (NGF); cholecystokinin-8 (CCK-8); CCK-8 receptors; CCKA; CCKB; brain; hypothalamus; hippocampus; pituitary; atropine
17.  Treatment of trigeminal ganglion neurons in vitro with NGF, GDNF or BDNF: effects on neuronal survival, neurochemical properties and TRPV1-mediated neuropeptide secretion 
BMC Neuroscience  2005;6:4.
Nerve growth factor (NGF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) all play important roles in the development of the peripheral sensory nervous system. Additionally, these growth factors are proposed to modulate the properties of the sensory system in the adult under pathological conditions brought about by nerve injury or inflammation. We have examined the effects of NGF, GDNF and BDNF on adult rat trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons in culture to gain a better understanding of how these growth factors alter the cytochemical and functional phenotype of these neurons, with special attention to properties associated with nociception.
Compared with no growth factor controls, GDNF, at 1 and 100 ng/ml, significantly increased by nearly 100% the number of neurons in culture at 5 days post-plating. A significant, positive, linear trend of increasing neuron number as a function of BDNF concentration was observed, also peaking at nearly 100%. NGF treatment was without effect. Chronic treatment with NGF and GDNF significantly and concentration-dependently increased 100 nM capsaicin (CAP)-evoked calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) release, reaching approximately 300% at the highest concentration tested (100 ng/ml). Also, NGF and GDNF each augmented anandamide (AEA)- and arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide (ACEA)-evoked CGRP release, while BDNF was without effect. Utilizing immunohistochemistry to account for the proportions of TRPV1- or CGRP-positive neurons under each growth factor treatment condition and then standardizing evoked CGRP release to these proportions, we observed that NGF was much more effective in enhancing CAP- and 50 mM K+-evoked CGRP release than was GDNF. Furthermore, NGF and GDNF each altered the concentration-response function for CAP- and AEA-evoked CGRP release, increasing the Emax without altering the EC50 for either compound.
Taken together, our results illustrate that NGF, GDNF and BDNF differentially alter TG sensory neuron survival, neurochemical properties and TRPV1-mediated neuropeptide release in culture. In particular, our findings suggest that GDNF and NGF differentially modulate TRPV1-mediated neuropeptide secretion sensitivity, with NGF having a much greater effect on a per neuron basis than GDNF. These findings are discussed in relation to possible therapeutic roles for growth factors or their modulators in pathological pain states, especially as these relate to the trigeminal system.
PMCID: PMC548274  PMID: 15667652
18.  Nerve Growth Factor Promotes Endothelial Progenitor Cell-Mediated Angiogenic Responses 
In response to ischemia, retinal neuronal cells express nerve growth factor (NGF), which can be proangiogenic. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) can participate with the resident vasculature to promote angiogenesis. We postulated that NGF may stimulate CD34+ EPCs to convert to an angiogenic phenotype.
Human CD34+ cells and human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs) were used to examine the effect of NGF on key steps associated with neovascularization. CD34+ cells and HRECs were stimulated with NGF (1 to 4 pM) for 24, 48, and 72 hours. Cell migration was measured using a modified Boyden chamber assay. Expression of the receptor for the cytokine stromal derived growth factor 1 (SDF-1), CXCR-4, was assessed by flow cytometry. In vitro angiogenesis was tested using a three-dimensional (3D) extracellular matrix with HRECs/CD34+ cell cocultures. NGF receptor activation was assessed by western analysis.
NGF promoted proliferation of CD34+ cells but not HRECs. Pretreatment of CD34+ cells with NGF increased CXCR-4 expression in CD34+ cells, resulting in enhanced migration to SDF-1 (P < 0.0001). The enhanced tubule-forming effect of NGF in HRECs was further potentiated by coculture with NGF-pretreated CD34+ cells (P < 0.01). The beneficial effect of NGF was blocked (P < 0.0001) by the ERK inhibitor PD98059. In both CD34+ and HRECs, NGF increased phosphorylation of neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor type 1 (TrkA) receptor by ERK1 activation (P < 0.01).
Our in vitro results suggest that NGF released from ischemic nerves in vivo may contribute to the “angiogenic switch” by stimulating the angiogenic behavior of CD34+ cells while minimally affecting resident retinal endothelial cells.
NGF in the physiologic range significantly increases proliferation of CD34+ cells, but not human retinal endothelial cells. Pretreatment of CD34+ cells with NGF increases CXCR-4 expression and angiogenesis. NGF increases phosphorylation of TrkA receptors in both CD34+ and HRECs by ERK1 activation.
PMCID: PMC3711691  PMID: 22410557
19.  Changes of nerve growth factor synthesis in nonneuronal cells in response to sciatic nerve transection 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1987;104(6):1623-1631.
The intact sciatic nerve contains levels of nerve growth factor (NGF) that are comparable to those of densely innervated peripheral target tissues of NGF-responsive (sympathetic and sensory) neurons. There, the high NGF levels are reflected by correspondingly high mRNANGF levels. In the intact sciatic nerve, mRNANGF levels were very low, thus indicating that the contribution of locally synthesized NGF by nonneuronal cells is small. However, after transection an increase of up to 15-fold in mRNANGF was measured in 4-mm segments collected both proximally and distally to the transection site. Distally to the transection site, augmented mRNANGF levels occurred in all three 4-mm segments from 6 h to 2 wk after transection, the longest time period investigated. The augmented local NGF synthesis after transection was accompanied by a reexpression of NGF receptors by Schwann cells (NGF receptors normally disappear shortly after birth). Proximal to the transection site, the augmented NGF synthesis was restricted to the very end of the nerve stump that acts as a "substitute target organ" for the regenerating NGF-responsive nerve fibers. While the mRNANGF levels in the nerve stump correspond to those of a densely innervated peripheral organ, the volume is too small to fully replace the lacking supply from the periphery. This is reflected by the fact that in the more proximal part of the transected sciatic nerve, where mRNANGF remained unchanged, the NGF levels reached only 40% of control values. In situ hybridization experiments demonstrated that after transection all nonneuronal cells express mRNANGF and not only those ensheathing the nerve fibers of NGF-responsive neurons.
PMCID: PMC2114490  PMID: 3034917
20.  Identification and characterization of mRNAs regulated by nerve growth factor in PC12 cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1987;7(9):3156-3167.
Differential screening of cDNA libraries was used to detect and prepare probes for mRNAs that are regulated in PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells by long-term (2-week) treatment with nerve growth factor (NGF). In response to NGF, PC12 cells change from a chromaffin cell-like to a sympathetic-neuron-like phenotype. Thus, one aim of this study was to identify NGF-regulated mRNAs that may be associated with the attainment of neuronal properties. Eight NGF-regulated mRNAs are described. Five of these increase 3- to 10-fold and three decrease 2- to 10-fold after long-term NGF exposure. Each mRNA was characterized with respect to the time course of the NGF response, regulation by agents other than NGF, and rat tissue distribution. Partial sequences of the cDNAs were used to search for homologies to known sequences. Homology analysis revealed that one mRNA (increased 10-fold) encodes the peptide thymosin beta 4 and a second mRNA (decreased 2-fold) encodes tyrosine hydroxylase. Another of the increased mRNAs was very abundant in sympathetic ganglia, barely detectable in brain and adrenals, and undetectable in all other tissues surveyed. One of the decreased mRNAs, by contrast, was very abundant in the adrenals and nearly absent in the sympathetic ganglia. With the exception of fibroblast growth factor, which is the only other agent known to mimic the differentiating effects of NGF on PC12 cells, none of the treatments tested (epidermal growth factor, insulin, dibutyryl cyclic AMP, dexamethasone, phorbol ester, and depolarization) reproduced the regulation observed with NGF. These and additional findings suggest that the NGF-regulated mRNAs may play roles in the establishment of the neuronal phenotype and that the probes described here will be useful to study the mechanism of action of NGF and the development and differentiation of neurons.
PMCID: PMC367950  PMID: 3670309
21.  Effect of ulinastatin on growth inhibition, apoptosis of breast carcinoma cells is related to a decrease in signal conduction of JNk-2 and NF-κB 
This study aims to investigate the in vitro effects of Ulinastatin (UTI) and Taxotere (TXT) on cell proliferation; cell apoptosis; xenografted tumor growth; and expression of insulin-like growth factor receptor 1 (IGF-1R), platelet-derived growth factor A (PDGFA), nerve growth factor (NGF), c-Jun N-terminal kinase 2 (JNk-2), and NF-κB in a human primary breast cancer cells and breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231.
The cell lines cultured were divided into four groups: 1) control group, 2) UTI group, 3) TXT group, and 4) UTI+TXT group. The method of MTT essay, flow cytometry, and RT-PCR were used to detect cell proliferation, cell apoptosis, and expression of IGF-1R, PDGFA, NGF, NF-κB, JNk-2, respectively. The growth of xenografted tumor in nude mice was used to calculate the anti-tumor rate. Immunohistochemistry staining (SP) was used to detect the expression of IGF-1R, PDGFA, NGF, ki-67, caspase-3, JNk-2, and NF-κB.
Proliferation of human breast cancer cells and MDA-MB-231 cell lines, and growth rate of xenografted tumor decreased in order of UTI+TXT > TXT > UTI > control, apoptosis increased in the order control < UTI < TXT < UTI+TXT. The gene expression and protein expression of IGF-1R, PDGFA, NGF, NF-κB and JNk-2 in breast cancer cells was inhibited by UTI and TXT.
UTI 1) inhibits the proliferation of human breast cancer cells and the growth of xenografted tumors, 2) induces cancer cell apoptosis, and 3) enhances the anti-tumor effect of TXT. This mechanism might be related to decreasing signal transduction of JNk-2 and NF-κB, and then expression of IGF-1R, PDGFA, NGF.
PMCID: PMC3275539  PMID: 22217202
Ulinastatin; Taxotere; Breast cancer; Proliferation; Apoptosis; JNk-2; NF-κB
22.  Characterization of a Nerve Growth Factor-Inducible Cellular Activity That Enhances Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Gene Expression and Replication of an ICP0 Null Mutant in Cells of Neural Lineage 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(7):5373-5382.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) ICP0 is required for efficient viral gene expression during lytic infection, especially at low multiplicities. A series of cellular activities that can substitute for ICP0 has been identified, suggesting that when the activity of ICP0 is limiting, these activities can substitute for ICP0 to activate viral gene expression. The cellular activities may be especially important during reactivation of HSV from neuronal latency when viral gene expression is initiated in the absence of prior viral protein synthesis. Consistent with this hypothesis, we have identified an inducible activity in cells of neural lineage (PC12) that can complement the low-multiplicity growth phenotype of an ICP0 null mutant, n212. Pretreatment of PC12 cells with nerve growth factor (NGF) or fibroblast growth factor (FGF) prior to infection produced a 10- to 20-fold increase in the 24-h yield of n212 but only a 2- to 4-fold increase in the yield of wild-type virus relative to mock treatment. Slot blot analysis of nuclear DNA isolated from infected cells treated or mock treated with NGF indicated that NGF treatment does not significantly affect viral entry. The NGF-induced activity in PC12 cells was expressed transiently, with peak complementing activity observed when cells were treated with NGF 12 h prior to infection. Addition of NGF 3 h after infection had little effect on virus yield. The NGF-induced cellular activity was inhibited by pretreatment of PC12 cells with kinase inhibitors that have high specificity for kinases involved in NGF/FGF-dependent signal transduction. RNase protection assays demonstrated that the NGF-inducible PC12 cell activity, like that of ICP0, functions to increase the level of viral mRNA during low-multiplicity infection. These results suggest that activation of viral transcription by ICP0 and transcriptional activation of cellular genes by NGF and FGF utilize common signal transduction pathways in PC12 cells.
PMCID: PMC110163  PMID: 9620991
23.  Effect of Single Growth Factor and Growth Factor Combinations on Differentiation of Neural Stem Cells 
The effects on neural proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells (NSC) of basic fibroblast growth factor-2 (bFGF), insulin growth factor-I (IGF-I), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and nerve growth factor (NGF) were assessed. Also, following combinations of various factors were investigated : bFGF+IGF-I, bFGF+BDNF, bFGF+NGF, IGF-I+BDNF, IGF-I+NGF, and BDNF+NGF.
Isolated NSC of Fisher 344 rats were cultured with individual growth factors, combinations of factors, and no growth factor (control) for 14 days. A proportion of neurons was analyzed using β-tubulin III and NeuN as neural markers.
Neural differentiations in the presence of individual growth factors for β-tubulin III-positive cells were : BDNF, 35.3%; IGF-I, 30.9%; bFGF, 18.1%; and NGF, 15.1%, and for NeuN-positive cells was : BDNF, 34.3%; bFGF, 32.2%; IGF-1, 26.6%; and NGF, 24.9%. However, neural differentiations in the absence of growth factor was only 2.6% for β-tubulin III and 3.1% for NeuN. For β-tubulin III-positive cells, neural differentiations were evident for the growth factor combinations as follows : bFGF+IGF-I, 73.1%; bFGF+NGF, 65.4%; bFGF+BDNF, 58.7%; BDNF+IGF-I, 52.2%; NGF+IGF-I, 40.6%; and BDNF+NGF, 40.0%. For NeuN-positive cells : bFGF+IGF-I, 81.9%; bFGF+NGF, 63.5%; bFGF+BDNF, 62.8%; NGF+IGF-I, 62.3%; BDNF+NGF, 56.3%; and BDNF+IGF-I, 46.0%. Significant differences in neural differentiation were evident for single growth factor and combination of growth factors respectively (p<0.05).
Combinations of growth factors have an additive effect on neural differentiation. The most prominent neural differentiation results from growth factor combinations involving bFGF and IGF-I. These findings suggest that the combination of a mitogenic action of bFGF and postmitotic differentiation action of IGF-I synergistically affects neural proliferation and NSC differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2615141  PMID: 19137082
Neuron; Single growth factor; Combination of growth factors; Synergistic effect
24.  Expression and regulation of neurotrophic and angiogenic factors during human intervertebral disc degeneration 
The degenerate intervertebral disc (IVD) becomes innervated by sensory nerve fibres, and vascularised by blood vessels. This study aimed to identify neurotrophins, neuropeptides and angiogenic factors within native IVD tissue and to further investigate whether pro-inflammatory cytokines are involved in the regulation of expression levels within nucleus pulposus (NP) cells, nerve and endothelial cells.
Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) was performed on 53 human IVDs from 52 individuals to investigate native gene expression of neurotrophic factors and their receptors, neuropeptides and angiogenic factors. The regulation of these factors by cytokines was investigated in NP cells in alginate culture, and nerve and endothelial cells in monolayer using RT-PCR and substance P (SP) protein expression in interleukin-1 (IL-1β) stimulated NP cells.
Initial investigation on uncultured NP cells identified expression of all neurotrophins by native NP cells, whilst the nerve growth factor (NGF) receptor was only identified in severely degenerate and infiltrated discs, and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) receptor expressed by more degenerate discs. BDNF expression was significantly increased in infiltrated and degenerate samples. SP and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were higher in infiltrated samples. In vitro stimulation by IL-1β induced NGF in NP cells. Neurotropin-3 was induced by tumour necrosis factor alpha in human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMECs). SP gene and protein expression was increased in NP cells by IL-1β. Calcitonin gene related peptide was increased in SH-SY5Y cells upon cytokine stimulation. VEGF was induced by IL-1β and interleukin-6 in NP cells, whilst pleiotrophin was decreased by IL-1β. VEGF and pleiotrophin were expressed by SH-SY5Y cells, and VEGF by HDMECs, but were not modulated by cytokines.
The release of cytokines, in particular IL-1β during IVD degeneration, induced significant increases in NGF and VEGF which could promote neuronal and vascular ingrowth. SP which is released into the matrix could potentially up regulate the production of matrix degrading enzymes and also sensitise nerves, resulting in nociceptive transmission and chronic low back pain. This suggests that IL-1β is a key regulatory cytokine, involved in the up regulation of factors involved in innervation and vascularisation of tissues.
PMCID: PMC4177417  PMID: 25209447
25.  Taking Pain Out of NGF: A “Painless” NGF Mutant, Linked to Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy Type V, with Full Neurotrophic Activity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17321.
During adulthood, the neurotrophin Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) sensitizes nociceptors, thereby increasing the response to noxious stimuli. The relationship between NGF and pain is supported by genetic evidence: mutations in the NGF TrkA receptor in patients affected by an hereditary rare disease (Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy type IV, HSAN IV) determine a congenital form of severe pain insensitivity, with mental retardation, while a mutation in NGFB gene, leading to the aminoacid substitution R100W in mature NGF, determines a similar loss of pain perception, without overt cognitive neurological defects (HSAN V). The R100W mutation provokes a reduced processing of proNGF to mature NGF in cultured cells and a higher percentage of neurotrophin secreted is in the proNGF form. Moreover, using Surface Plasmon Resonance we showed that the R100W mutation does not affect NGF binding to TrkA, while it abolishes NGF binding to p75NTR receptors. However, it remains to be clarified whether the major impact of the mutation is on the biological function of proNGF or of mature NGF and to what extent the effects of the R100W mutation on the HSAN V clinical phenotype are developmental, or whether they reflect an impaired effectiveness of NGF to regulate and mediate nociceptive transmission in adult sensory neurons. Here we show that the R100 mutation selectively alters some of the signaling pathways activated downstream of TrkA NGF receptors. NGFR100 mutants maintain identical neurotrophic and neuroprotective properties in a variety of cell assays, while displaying a significantly reduced pain-inducing activity in vivo (n = 8–10 mice/group). We also show that proNGF has a significantly reduced nociceptive activity, with respect to NGF. Both sets of results jointly contribute to elucidating the mechanisms underlying the clinical HSAN V manifestations, and to clarifying which receptors and intracellular signaling cascades participate in the pain sensitizing action of NGF.
PMCID: PMC3046150  PMID: 21387003

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