Requirement for nerve growth factor in the development of myelinated nociceptors in vivo

Nature. 1991 Apr 11;350(6318):500-2. doi: 10.1038/350500a0.


In adult animals, sensory neurons innervating the skin are phenotypically diverse. We have now investigated whether nerve growth factor (NGF) has a physiological role in the development of this diversity. We gave antisera against NGF to rats from postnatal day 1 (PND 1) to adulthood (5 weeks). We found a virtually complete depletion of high threshold mechanoreceptors conducting in the A delta range (2-13 ms-1) in the sural nerve. This afferent type, normally present in large numbers, appeared to have been replaced by D-hair afferents, sensitive mechanoreceptors which normally are relatively rare. NGF deprivation had this effect only in early postnatal life; treatment from postnatal day 14 to adulthood had no effect. We conclude that the presence of NGF postnatally in skin is necessary for the proper phenotypic development of A delta cutaneous nociceptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / immunology
  • Nerve Growth Factors / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Nociceptors / growth & development*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Skin / innervation*


  • Nerve Growth Factors