Nerve growth factor receptor-immunoreactive neurons within the developing human cortex

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A monoclonal antibody recognizing the p75 receptor for nerve growth factor (NGF) was used to assess the immunohistochemical expression of NGF receptors within the developing human neo-, limbic, and paralimbic cortices as well as the hippocampal complex. Between embryonic weeks 16 and 26, a transient population of neurons located within the upper and lower subplate zones of the neo-, limbic, and paralimbic cortices expressed the receptor for NGF. In contrast, NGF receptor-immunoreactive neurons were only observed in the upper subplate zone of the entorhinal cortex at embryonic week 40 (term), a staining pattern not observed in a 5-year-old specimen. The expression of NGF receptor-immunoreactive neurons within the upper subplate zone between embryonic weeks 16 and 40 was characterized by a dense band of immunoreactive neurons and neuropil. These neurons were bipolar with basal and apically directed neurites. NGF receptor-immunoreactive neurons were also scattered throughout the lower subplate zone and underlying white matter between embryonic weeks 19 and 26. These neurons were multipolar, with less apically directed neurites. NGF receptor-immunoreactive subplate neurons displayed a topographic distribution with the heaviest concentration found within limbic and paralimbic cortices as well as association neocortex. In contrast, light to moderate NGF receptor-immunoreactivity was seen in sensory-motor cortex. Within the hippocampal complex, only a few lightly stained NGF receptor-immunoreactive neurons were seen within the fimbria, hilar region of the dentate gyrus, and subiculum. The expression of NGF receptor-immunoreactivity increased within the subplate zone of the pre- and parasubiculum culminating in intense entorhinal cortex staining. As the entorhinal cortex merged with the developing inferior temporal association cortex, there was a marked reduction in staining intensity. In contrast to those in the subplate zone, neurons within the germinal zone and cortical plate were NGF receptor immunonegative at all times examined. The presence of NGF receptors in the subplate zone suggests that neurotrophins such as NGF play an important role in the transient viability of these neurons as well as in the guidance of cortical afferent inputs into topographically organized regions of the cerebral cortex.

Medical Subject Headings

Acetylcholinesterase (metabolism); Antibodies, Monoclonal (immunology); Cerebral Cortex (embryology, immunology, metabolism); Female; Fetus (metabolism, ultrastructure); Hippocampus (immunology, metabolism); Humans; Immunohistochemistry; Neurons (immunology, metabolism); Pregnancy; Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor (immunology, metabolism); Staining and Labeling

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The Journal of comparative neurology







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