Effects of proNGF on neuronal viability, neurite growth and amyloid-beta metabolism

Neurotox Res. 2010 Apr;17(3):257-67. doi: 10.1007/s12640-009-9098-x. Epub 2009 Aug 13.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized pathologically by the deposition of amyloid-beta peptides (Abeta), neurofibrillary tangles, distinctive neuronal loss and neurite dystrophy. Nerve growth factor (NGF) has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of AD, however, the role of its precursor (proNGF) in AD remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the effect of proNGF on neuron death, neurite growth and Abeta production, in vitro and in vivo. We found that proNGF promotes the death of different cell lines and primary neurons in culture, likely dependent on the expression of p75(NTR). We for the first time found that proNGF has an opposite role in neurite growth to that of mature NGF, retarding neurite growth in both cell lines and primary neurons. proNGF is localized to the Abeta plaques in AD mice brain, however, it had no significant effect on Abeta production in vitro and in vivo. Our findings suggest that proNGF is an important factor involving AD pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Nerve Growth Factor / toxicity*
  • Neurites / drug effects*
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Presenilin-1 / genetics
  • Protein Precursors / toxicity*
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Presenilin-1
  • Protein Precursors
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor
  • pro-nerve growth factor, human
  • Nerve Growth Factor