Effects of nerve growtfactor on sympathetic neuron development in normal and limbless chick embryos

Johanna Saltis, Robert A. Rush

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    Wing bud removal in chick embryos has been shown to affect the generation of sympathetic neurons prior to the normal period of limb innervation [Saltis and Rush (1995) J. auton. nerv. Sys., 51, 117-127.]. Pyknotic activity occurred earlier within the peripherally deprived ganglion, suggesting that a precocious cell death of dividing sympathoblasts led to the reduced neuronal population. We have now sought to test whether the effect of limb bud extirpation can be overcome by the administration of nerve growth factor (NGF). Specifically, the peripherally deprived ganglion has been examined for mitotic activity and total neuronal numbers. In brachial ganglia from the operated side, neuron numbers decreased by 67% by embryonic day (E) 13, but by only 28% when NGF was administered from E9. Ganglia on the unoperated side were unaffected by the NGF treatment. In contrast, in embryos receiving NGF from E5 to E9, neuron numbers in the ganglia increased by more than 100%, on both the intact and operated side. This increase was accompanied by a greater proportion of 3H-thymidine-labelled neurons. We therefore conclude that NGF, in addition to its previously described role of preventing naturally occurring neuron death, can also affect the generation of sympathetic neurons. This ability of NGF to affect gangliogenesis is most likely achieved by increasing the survival of dividing neuroblasts, although a direct effect on mitosis has not been excluded.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)577-584
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 1995


    • chick embryo
    • limb removal
    • mitosis
    • neuron death
    • proliferation
    • sympathetic neurons


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