Electron microscopic localization of nerve growth factor receptor (p75)-immunoreactivity in pars caudalis / medullary dorsal horn of the cat

Michael A. Henry, Lesnick E. Westrum, Mark Bothwell, Shoshanna Press

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14 Scopus citations


Previous studies have demonstrated the presence of nerve growth factor receptor [NGFr(p75)]-immunoreactivity (IR) in the spinal trigeminal nucleus of both 8-10 week-old kittens and mature cats. Most of the NGFr(p75)-IR is lost following retrogasserian rhizotomy, indicating that the majority of the NGFr(p75)-IR within the spinal trigeminal nucleus is of trigeminal primary afferent origin. Here, we examined the ultrastructural localization of NGFr(p75)-IR within lamina II outer of pars caudalis/medullary dorsal horn in the mature cat. Lamina II outer represents a location where dense NGFr(p75)-IR is seen with the light microscope. The NGFr(p75)-IR identified with the electron microscope was located within small thinly myelinated and unmyelinated axons and within axon terminals. The terminals with NGFr(p75)-IR typically formed asymmetric synaptic specializations onto dendritic profiles and at times were postsynaptic to other axon terminals at symmetric synaptic specializations. The terminals with NGFr(p75)-IR were either simple (associated with a single profile) or more complex, such as those that typically formed the central element in synaptic glomeruli. The NGFr(p75)-IR in terminals was especially prominent on microtubules and the plasmalemma and these findings are consistent with proposed roles for NGFr(p75) in axoplasmic/neuronal transport and as a membrane protein, respectively. The profiles with NGFr(p75)-IR seen with the electron microscope indicate a primary afferent origin and show some similarities when compared to other markers of primary afferent fibers such as calcitonin gene-related peptide. In addition, a possible role for NGFr(p75) in the transmission of nociceptive stimuli is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 11 1994


  • Glomerulus
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Neurotrophin
  • Primary afferent
  • Trigeminal
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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