Immunity to nerve growth factor and the effect on motor unit reinnervation in the rabbit Academic Article uri icon


  • The trophic effects of nerve growth factor (NGF) on sympathetic, peripheral afferent, and other neural crest-derived cells have been intensively investigated. More recently, NGF has been shown to have an influence on motoneurons. This study was undertaken to investigate whether NGF had any influence on the mechanical or histological properties of reinnervated motor units. Three groups of rabbits were used: normal rabbits, rabbits in which the nerve to medial gastrocnemius (MG) was cut and allowed to reinnervate for 56 days, and rabbits in which the MG nerve reinnervated in the presence of immunity to NGF. Immunity to NGF did not affect the ability of motor axons to reinnervate a muscle, nor were the contractile characteristics of the motor units altered. The size of horseradish peroxidase-labeled motoneurons was not influenced by immunization against NGF; however, the distribution of afferent neuron sizes was altered. Conduction velocity of motor axons proximal to the neuroma was significantly faster after immunization against NGF. Transection and subsequent reinnervation by a peripheral nerve normally causes an increase in myelin thickness proximal to the neuroma. However, immunization against NGF appeared to decrease the magnitude of myelin thickening. It was concluded that immunization against NGF affects motor axonal conduction velocity via an influence on the neural crest-derived Schwann cells.

publication date

  • May 1, 1992