Effect of NGF, BDNF, bFGF, aFGF and cell density on NPY expression in cultured rat dorsal root ganglion neurones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The effect of neurotrophic factors on neuropeptide Y (NPY) expression was studied in adult rat dispersed dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cultures. Nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF) or basic FGF was included in the culture medium during incubation for 72 h. In untreated cultures, around 18% of all neurones (visualized by antibodies to PGP 9.5) expressed NPY-like immunoreactivity (LI). In contrast, in vivo uninjured neurones do not contain detectable levels of NPY-LI. In the immunohistochemical analysis aFGF increased the percentage of NPY-immunoreactive (-IR) neurones 1.8-fold, while NGF, BDNF or bFGF had no significant effect on NPY expression. When the effect of these growth factors was monitored with non-radioactive in situ hybridization, both aFGF and bFGF caused a significant increase (2.25- and 1.8-fold, respectively), whereas, again, NGF and BDNF had no effect. The results also showed an effect of cell density on NPY expression, whereby fewer neurones expressed NPY in high than in low density cultures. This difference was seen in untreated as well as growth factor-treated cultures. The present results support the hypothesis that DRG neurones in culture are in an axotomized state, since they express NPY to about the same extent as axotomized DRG neurones in vivo. Surprisingly, two growth factors of the FGF family enhance NPY expression in DRG neurones, which is in apparent contrast to a published in vivo study [Ji, R.-R., Zhang, Q., Pettersson, R.F., Hokfelt, T., 1996. aFGF, bFGF and NGF differentially regulate neuropeptide expression in dorsal root ganglia after axotomy and induce autotomy. Reg. Pept. 66, 179-189.]. Finally, NPY expression was also influenced by cell density. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.


External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • University of Bordeaux
Research areas and keywords


  • Axotomy, Growth factors, Nerve injury, Neuropeptides, Pain
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-138
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Jul 3
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes