A study of the de- and regenerative changes in the sympathetic nervous system of the adult mouse after treatment with the antiserum to nerve growth factor

Brain Res. 1975 Jul 11;92(2):257-78. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(75)90274-7.


In the adult mouse, the antiserum to nerve growth factor (NGF) induced marked atrophic changes of the ganglionic cell bodies in the superior cervical ganglion (SCG) and a disappearance of adrenergic nerve terminals in several peripheral tissues. By fluorescence histochemistry a lower-than-normal content of the noradrenaline (NA) transmitter was observed within the entire adrenergic neurone only 1 day after a single injection of NGF-antiserum (0.1 ml/g body weight). An atrophy of adrenergic nerve cell bodies and a disappearance of adrenergic nerve terminals were observed after 3 days, but the antiserum-induced effects did not appear maximally developed until 7 days after treatment. These fluorescence histochemical findings were paralleled by a gradual decrease of the endogenous NA levels in peripheral tissues and also of the weight of the SCG. A gradually proceeding restoration towards normal of the adrenergic innervation apparatus was observed fluorescence histochemically following a 5-day treatment with NGF-antiserum (0.1 ml/g body weight each dose), and after 6 weeks to 3 months a normal or close to normal fluorescence microscopical appearance was regained in the peripheral tissues and also in the SCG. These findings were parelleled by the results of the determinations of endogenous NA in peripheral tissues and by the results of weighing the SCG. We discuss some important differences between NGF-antiserum and 6-hydroxydopamine with respect to their mode of action on the mature sympathetic nervous system. Finally, we suggest that a decreased availability of NGF in a terminal area, due to an interference with endogenous NGF by NGF-antibodies, may temporarily result in an impaired function of the supplying adrenergic neurone, including a degeneration of nerve terminals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Autonomic / physiology*
  • Hydroxydopamines / pharmacology
  • Immune Sera
  • Intestine, Small / analysis
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Myocardium / analysis
  • Nerve Degeneration*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / immunology*
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Norepinephrine / analysis
  • Pancreas / analysis
  • Spleen / analysis
  • Sublingual Gland / analysis
  • Submandibular Gland / analysis
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Hydroxydopamines
  • Immune Sera
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Norepinephrine