An improved procedure for the immunohistochemical localization of nerve growth factor-like immunoreactivity

Xin Fu Zhou, Chris Zettler, Robert A. Rush

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a survival factor required by a number of neuronal populations including most post-ganglionic sympathetic neurones. NGF has been detected and quantified in many tissues but there is little information regarding its cellular localization. Although it has been argued that histological detection has proven difficult due to the low levels of NGF present, other factors may contribute to prevent its identification. In the present study, we report a method for the histological detection of NGF-like immunoreactivity in the rat superior cervical ganglia (SCG). Adult Wistar-Kyoto rats were perfused briefly with either a high or low pH buffer prior to fixation and routine immunohistochemistry. Polyclonal antibodies to native mouse NGF used in the present study recognized mouse NGF but not recombinant human neurotrophin 3 (rhNT3) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (rhBDNF) by immunoblot analysis. NGF-like immunoreactivity was localized to most sympathetic neurones. Immunoreactivity was detected in the cytoplasm with dense labelling around nuclei. No stain was seen in sections incubated with normal sheep IgG or from animals perfused with phosphate buffer (pH 7.4) prior to fixation. In addition, axotomy resulted in the disappearance of NGF immunoreactivity which was confirmed by biochemical quantification. Finally, no NGF immunoreactivity was found in neurones of rats treated systemically with NGF antiserum 3 days earlier. Possible mechanisms underlying the improvement of NGF immunohistochemistry by pH manipulation before fixation are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-102
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 1994


    • (Rat)
    • Axotomy
    • Immunohisochemistry
    • Nerve growth factor
    • Superior cervical ganglia
    • Sympathetic neurone


    Dive into the research topics of 'An improved procedure for the immunohistochemical localization of nerve growth factor-like immunoreactivity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this