Development of immune hyperinnervation in NGF-transgenic mice

Sonia L. Carlson, Sonia Johnson, Mark E. Parrish, Wayne A. Cass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Sympathetic innervation of lymphoid tissues is localized to specific tissue compartments, but little is known of the 'factors' that are important in establishing this pattern during development. Numerous studies have shown interactions of nerve growth factor (NGF) with the immune system, which may include modulation of immune innervation. We previously have shown that NGF transgenic mice, which overexpress NGF in skin and not immune tissues, have a dramatic hyperinnervation of splenic marginal zone and peripheral lymph node medulla and capsule. The purpose of the current studies was to determine if the presence of elevated NGF would alter immune system development and the process of sympathetic ingrowth. The results show that the splenic innervation in NGF transgenics gradually diverged from controls during the first two postnatal weeks, with the greatest change occurring between postnatal days 18 and 16 when the splenic organization was reaching the adult pattern. In contrast, the peripheral lymph nodes were hyperinnervated at an earlier age. Mesenteric lymph nodes never diverged from the normal pattern. NGF levels in transgenic spleen were much higher than controls at postnatal days 1 and 2, when little innervation was present, and declined as the tissue matured, possibly because of NGF uptake by the ingrowing sympathetic fibers. This suggests that immune tissues are capable of concentrating NGF, which in turn may modulate the level of innervation by the sympathetic nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Kathy Albers and Dr. Brian Davis for providing mice for breeding and for critical reading of the manuscript. We also thank Karen Abell and Mike Dugan for excellent technical assistance. This work was supported by Grant MH48644 to S.L.C. from the National Institutes of Mental Health.


  • Liver
  • Lymph node
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Norepinephrine
  • Spleen
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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