Nerve growth factor/p75 neurotrophin receptor-mediated sensitization of rat sensory neurons depends on membrane cholesterol

Y. H. Zhang, R. Khanna, G. D. Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Nerve growth factor (NGF) is an important mediator in the initiation of the inflammatory response and NGF via activation of the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) and downstream sphingomyelin signaling leads to significant enhancement of the excitability of small-diameter sensory neurons. Because of the interaction between sphingomyelin and cholesterol in creating membrane liquid-ordered domains known as membrane or lipid rafts, we examined whether neuronal NGF-induced sensitization via p75NTR was dependent on the integrity of membrane rafts. Here, we demonstrate that the capacity of NGF to enhance the excitability of sensory neurons may result from the interaction of p75NTR with its downstream signaling partner(s) in membrane rafts. Two agents known to disrupt membrane rafts, edelfosine and methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD), block the increase in excitability produced by NGF. In contrast, treatment with MβCD containing saturated amounts of cholesterol does not alter the capacity of NGF to augment excitability. In addition, adding back MβCD with cholesterol restored the NGF-induced sensitization in previously cholesterol-depleted neurons, suggesting that cholesterol and the structural integrity of rafts are key to promoting NGF-mediated sensitization. Using established protocols to isolate detergent-resistant membranes, both p75NTR and the neuronal membrane raft marker, flotillin, localize to raft fractions. These results suggest that downstream signaling partners interacting with p75NTR in sensory neurons are associated with membrane raft signaling platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-570
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 17 2013


  • Dorsal root ganglia
  • Excitability
  • Membrane raft
  • NGF
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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