Endogenous NGF and CNTF levels in human peripheral nerve injury

Neuroreport. 1997 May 27;8(8):1935-8. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199705260-00028.


Nerve growth factor (NGF) is trophic to sensory and sympathetic fibres, and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) to motoneurones, in animal models of peripheral nerve injury: NGF excess produces hyperalgesia. In this first study of injured human nerves and sensory ganglia, we quantified and localized endogenous NGF and CNTF in 59 neonate and adult patients with brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injury. NGF levels were generally depleted in injured nerves, but relatively preserved acutely in nerve segments distal to injury. NGF immunostaining was observed in Schwann cells in distal nerve segments with pockets of high levels in some neuromas. CNTF levels and immunostaining in Schwann cells were markedly decreased distally within days of injury. We propose that early local administration of NGF and CNTF-like agents may help prevent degenerative changes in injured nerves, while at later stages local anti-NGF treatment (e.g. of some neuromas) may ameliorate chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries*
  • Peripheral Nerves / metabolism
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence


  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins