Neurotrophic effect of hepatocyte growth factor on central nervous system neurons in vitro

J Neurosci Res. 1996 Mar 1;43(5):554-64. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4547(19960301)43:5<554::AID-JNR5>3.0.CO;2-H.


Although the expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor, proto-oncogene c-met, has been demonstrated in the central nervous system (CNS), the function of HGF in the CNS was not fully understood. In the present studies, we determined the effects of HGF on neuronal development in neocortical explant and mesencephalic neurons obtained from embryonic rat brain. HGF clearly enhanced neurite outgrowth in neocortical explants. In the mesencephalic culture, the number of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons was significantly higher in the HGF-treated wells and the neurites of the TH-positive neurons appear to be more developed. Moreover, the dopamine uptake into mesencephalic neurons was also enhanced by HGF treatment, indicating that HGF promotes the survival and/or maturation of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons. In both neocortical explants and mesencephalic neurons, c-met autophosphorylation was induced by HGF and MAP kinase activation was also detected in the neocortical explant. Furthermore, Western blot analysis of the cultured CNS cells revealed that HGF was expressed mainly in microglia. These results suggest that HGF from microglia has neurotrophic activity on the CNS neurons and plays significant roles in the development of the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Mesencephalon / drug effects*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology*
  • Neurites / drug effects
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Rats / embryology
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Signal Transduction


  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Dopamine