Nerve growth factor receptor immunoreactivity in the nonhuman primate (Cebus apella): Distribution, morphology, and colocalization with cholinergic enzymes

Jeffrey H. Kordower, Raymond T. Bartus, Mark Bothwell, Gina Schatteman, Don M. Gash

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A monoclonal antibody raised against the receptor for nerve growth factor (NGF) was used to examine the distribution and morphology of NGF receptor‐containing neurons within the central nervous system of Cebus apella monkeys. Most somata demonstrating positive immunoreactivity were localized within the Ch1–4 regions of the basal forebrain. Neurons in the Ch1 region displayed morphological features typical of cholinergic medial septal neurons. These perikarya were primarily vertically oriented (40–50 μm along the vertical axis) with both apical and basal neuritic processes. Magnocellular (40–50 μm) neurons within the Ch2 (vertical limb of the diagonal band), Ch3 (horizontal limb of the diagonal band) and Ch4 (nucleus basalis of Meynert) regions were multipolar and had rounded perikarya that often displayed an eccentric nucleus. Fibers presumably originating from the Ch1–2 regions were observed throughout the fimbria‐fornix system and were found to terminate preferentially within the CA1 and CA3 regions of the hippocampal formation and within the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. An intense fiber network was also observed in the olfactory tubercle and other rhinencephalic structures, presumably originating from the Ch3 region of the basal forebrain. Beaded processes emanating from the Ch4 region primarily coursed within the external capsule and terminated preferentially within layers I, II, and IV of the cerebral cortex. In a pattern similar to that of cortical acetylcholinesterase (AChE) staining, NGF receptor immunopositive fibers were oriented in a tangential plane within the molecular layer of the cortex and in both a radial and tangential fashion within the cortical granular cell layers. In addition to neural innervation, there was an extensive vascular apposition by NGF receptor‐containing neurites on both large caliber vessels and microcapillaries. NGF receptor immunoreactivity was extensively, but not exclusively, colocalized with choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and AChE in the basal forebrain. A small population of cholinergic neurons were observed that were not NGF receptor‐immunoreactive. Conversely, a few NGF receptor‐containing neurons that were noncholinergic were also observed in this brain region. NGF receptor‐containing somata were also identified in the putamen. The number of immunoreactive neurons observed in this structure, however, would not appear to be sufficient to account for the homologous NGF receptor binding densities described in rodents. NGF receptor immunoreactive neurons were also observed within the dorsal columns of the fornix, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and within the mesencephalic nucleus of the trigeminal nerve. Specific fiber immunoreactivity was also observed within the hypothalamic median eminence and the subfornical organ. These data are discussed in terms of the putative roles that NGF may play in modulating and supporting central nervous system function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-486
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 22 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • acetylcholine
  • acetylcholinesterase
  • choline acetyltransferase
  • trophic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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