Nerve growth factor regulates human choroidal, but not retinal, endothelial cell migration and proliferation

Auton Neurosci. 2003 Oct 31;108(1-2):57-62. doi: 10.1016/S1566-0702(03)00151-6.


We have previously shown that sympathetic denervation results in significant blood vessel growth of the choroid and retina. The mechanism of this growth remains unclear. Since sympathetic denervation can result in increased nerve growth factor (NGF) levels, it was the goal of this study to determine if choroidal and retinal endothelial cells in culture would respond to nerve growth factor and if nerve growth factor promote endothelial cell migration and proliferation, two components of angiogenesis. Western blotting with phospho-specific antibodies, cell migration, and cell proliferation assays were employed to determine NGF effects on both choroidal and retinal cell growth. NGF treatment produced phosphorylation of TrkA in choroidal and retinal endothelial cells. NGF stimulation resulted in activation of ERK1/2, Akt, and Src in choroidal endothelial cells, while little phosphorylation was noted following NGF treatment in retinal endothelial cells. NGF increased choroidal endothelial cell migration by 50% over control and this was inhibited by pretreatment with LY294002 (PI3K inhibitor), Akt inhibitor, and MMP2/9 inhibitor. KT5823, PD98059, and PP2 did not affect choroidal cell migration. NGF also produced a 47% increase in choroidal endothelial cell proliferation, which was blocked by PP2, LY294002, Akt inhibitor, KT5823, and PD98059. NGF stimulation did not alter retinal endothelial cell migration or proliferation. Thus, it appears that increased NGF levels that may be noted after sympathectomy are capable of producing some aspects of vascular remodeling via different signaling cascades in choroidal endothelial cells in culture.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Choroid / cytology
  • Choroid / drug effects*
  • Choroid / physiology
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factor / pharmacology*
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / drug effects*
  • Retina / physiology


  • Nerve Growth Factor