Evidence for multiple, local functions of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) in retinal development: expression of CNTF and its receptors and in vitro effects on target cells

J Neurochem. 1997 Mar;68(3):979-90. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.1997.68030979.x.


There is increasing, although largely indirect, evidence that neurotrophic factors not only function as target-derived survival factors for projection neurons, but also act locally to regulate developmental processes. We studied the expression of ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) and the CNTF-specific ligand-binding alpha-subunit of the CNTF receptor complex (CNTFR alpha) in the rat retina, a well-defined CNS model system, and CNTF effects on cultured retinal neurons. Both CNTF and CNTFR alpha (mRNA and protein) are expressed during phases of retinal neurogenesis and differentiation. Retina-specific Müller glia are immunocytochemically identified as the site of CNTF production and CNTFR alpha-expressing, distinct neuronal cell types as potential CNTF targets. Biological effects on corresponding neurons in culture further support the conclusion that locally supplied CNTF plays a regulatory role in the development of various retinal cell types including ganglion cells and interneurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / growth & development
  • Animals, Newborn / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / growth & development*
  • Retina / metabolism*


  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor