We examined the expression of the neurotrophins (NTFs) and their receptor mRNAs in the rat trigeminal ganglion and the first branchial arch before and at the time of maxillary nerve growth. The maxillary nerve appears first at embryonic day (E)10 and reaches the epithelium of the first branchial arch at E12, as revealed by anti-L1 immunohistochemistry. In situ hybridization demonstrates, that at E10-E11, neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) mRNA is expressed mainly in the mesenchyme, but neurotrophin-4 (NT-4) mRNA in the epithelium of the first branchial arch. NGF and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNAs start to be expressed in the distal part of the first brachial arch shortly before its innervation by the maxillary nerve. Trigeminal ganglia strongly express the mRNA of trkA at E10 and thereafter. The expression of mRNAs for low-affinity neurotrophin receptor (LANR), trkB, and trkC in trigeminal ganglia is weak at E10, but increases by E11-E12. NT-3, NT-4, and more prominently BDNF, induce neurite outgrowth from explant cultures of the E10 trigeminal ganglia but no neurites are induced by NGF, despite the expression of trkA. By E12, the neuritogenic potency of NGF also appears. The expression of NT-3 and NT-4 and their receptors in the trigeminal system prior to target field innervation suggests that these NTFs have also other functions than being the target-derived trophic factors.

This content is only available as a PDF.