Chronic alcohol intoxication in rats leads to a strong but transient increase in NGF levels in distinct brain regions

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2006 Jul;113(7):813-20. doi: 10.1007/s00702-005-0361-x. Epub 2005 Oct 27.


Nerve growth factor (NGF), a member of the neurotrophin family, is an essential mediator of neuronal activity and synaptic plasticity of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons. In this study NGF-protein levels were determined in areas of the basal forebrain cholinergic system, its projection areas as well as the striatum and the cerebellum after long-term exposure (6 and 9 months) to ethanol and a phase of withdrawal in male Sprague-Dawley rats. 6-month alcohol treatment led to an increase of NGF to 650-850% of controls in the basal forebrain and the septum and to a 210-485% increase in the cholinergic projection areas (anterior cortex, hippocampus and olfactory bulb). After 9 months exposure to ethanol, a decrease of NGF by 16% in the frontal cortex was observed compared to controls. In the other brain regions no differences in NGF expression were detectable at this time-point. These results support the idea of an endogenous neuroprotective mechanism acting through a transient NGF induction followed by a decrease in NGF-levels during the course of further neuronal degeneration.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders, Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders, Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism / metabolism*
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Basal Nucleus of Meynert / drug effects
  • Basal Nucleus of Meynert / metabolism
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology
  • Cholinergic Fibers / drug effects
  • Cholinergic Fibers / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration / chemically induced
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Nerve Growth Factor / drug effects*
  • Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Nerve Regeneration / drug effects
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Telencephalon / drug effects
  • Telencephalon / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / physiology


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol
  • Nerve Growth Factor
  • Acetylcholine