The expression of CNTF message and immunoreactivity in the central and peripheral nervous system of the rat

Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1992 Apr 24;66(2):209-19. doi: 10.1016/0165-3806(92)90082-8.


We have examined the temporal and spatial expression of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) and its messenger RNA (mRNA) by immunocytochemistry and Northern blot analysis. Specific CNTF-like (CNTF-IR) immunoreactivity and CNTF message were detected primarily in sciatic nerve, spinal cord, and optic nerve sections in the adult rat. In the sciatic nerve immunostaining was localized primarily to the Schwann cell cytoplasm. Schwann cells in the dorsal root ganglion and in the spinal motor roots were immunoreactive for CNTF but no CNTF immunoreactivity was detected in Schwann cells associated with unmyelinated sympathetic fibers in the superior cervical ganglion. CNTF-IR was first detected in sciatic nerve sections on postnatal day 8 and increased in intensity until reaching adult levels by postnatal day 21. In the adult rat, optic nerve staining was confined to astrocyte-like cells and their projections, and this pattern of immunoreactivity was first apparent at postnatal day 8. Double labelling experiments suggest that a GFAP-positive cell in the optic nerve synthesizes CNTF. In the spinal cord, CNTF-IR was seen only in white matter non-neuronal cells at all ages studied. Branched oligodendrocyte-like cells appeared stained and the staining was first apparent at postnatal day 8. The data, therefore, suggest that myelinating Schwann cells produce CNTF and demonstrate the presence of CNTF and its messenger RNA at the appropriate time period in tissues previously defined as having biological responses to CNTF.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Nerve Growth Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Neuroglia / chemistry
  • Optic Nerve / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nerves / growth & development
  • Peripheral Nerves / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sciatic Nerve / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism


  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger