Over-expression of NGF in skin causes formation of novel sympathetic projections to trkA-positive sensory neurons

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PREVIOUS studies have shown that transgenic mice over-expressing NGF in the skin have novel sympathetic ‘basket-like’ projections to sensory neurons similar to that seen in models of chronic pain. Since only a subset of sensory neurons in the NGF-transgenic mice received the sympathetic projections, we hypothesized that sympathetic sprouting was targeted to those neurons affected by increased levels of NGF. To test this, doublelabel immunohistochemistry for the NGF receptor (trkA) and sympathetic baskets was performed. Thirty-nine percent of all neurons in transgenic trigeminal ganglia were trkA-positive. Moreover, of the population of sensory neurons that received sympathetic input, 84% were trkA-positive. These results indicate that retrogradely transported NGF can induce and direct growth of sympathetic axons in vivo.

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