VGF mRNA and its precursor-derived products are selectively expressed in certain neurons and promptly respond to neurotrophins and to neural/electrical activity. Proteomic studies have previously revealed a reduction in some VGF peptides in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients affected by Alzheimer's disease and other conditions, suggesting their potential diagnostic and clinical significance. As the presence of VGF peptides within the human cortex has been somewhat elucidated, they were studied postmortem in the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortex areas of control subjects and patients affected by Parkinson's disease, and in parietal cortex samples from patients with Alzheimer's disease. We raised antibodies to the C-/N-terminal portions of the proVGF precursor protein, to the TPGH and TLQP sequences and to the neuroendocrine regulatory peptide (NERP)-1, all used for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay coupled with gel chromatography and for immunohistochemistry. In the control brain samples, the levels of TPGH and C-terminus peptides were about 130-200 and 700-2000 pmol g⁻¹, respectively, the N-terminus and NERP-1 peptides were less represented (about 10-30 and 4-20 pmol g⁻¹, respectively), and the TLQP peptides were below detection limits. Upon gel chromatography, the VGF antisera mainly revealed small molecular weight forms (i.e. about 0.8-1.3 kDa), whereas VGF immunolocalisation was found within different types of neuron in rat and bovine brain cortices. In the Parkinson's disease samples, a clear-cut decrease was revealed in the parietal cortex only, exclusively for TPGH and NERP-1 peptides, whereas in the Alzheimer's disease samples, a reduction in all of the VGF peptides was shown. The results suggest the involvement of VGF in the physiological or pathophysiological mechanisms occurring in the parietal cortex of patients with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Anatomy © 2010 Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.