Effects of nerve growth factor on neuronal plasticity of the kitten visual cortex

J Physiol. 1993 May;464:343-60. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1993.sp019638.


1. The effect of intraventricular administration of nerve growth factor (NGF) by means of a cannula-minipump system was studied in kittens monocularly deprived during the critical period. The ocular dominance of area 17 neurones of NGF-treated and control kittens was determined by conventional extracellular recordings. The soma size of cells in A and A1 laminae of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) was also evaluated in Cresyl Violet preparations. 2. Binocularly responsive neurons were found to be significantly more numerous in NGF-treated than in control kittens. The shrinkage of cells from the deprived LGN laminae normally observed in control kittens was prevented by NGF administration. 3. Following an initial period of monocular deprivation (MD) kittens subsequently treated with NGF showed a substantial recovery of functional binocular connections. 4. These findings indicate that the administration of NGF during the period of deprivation reduces the amblyopic effects of MD, while its administration to kittens with both eyes open following the initial deprivation promotes recovery of the deprived eye. 5. Neurotrophic factors may contribute to the regulation of experience-dependent modifications of synaptic connectivity in the visual cortex.

MeSH terms

  • Amblyopia / etiology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Functional Laterality
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Vision, Monocular
  • Vision, Ocular / drug effects
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / drug effects*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology


  • Nerve Growth Factors