Treatment of trigeminal ganglion neurons in vitro with NGF, GDNF or BDNF: Effects on neuronal survival, neurochemical properties and TRPV1-mediated neuropeptide secretion

Theodore J. Price, Michael D. Louria, Damaries Candelario-Soto, Gregory O. Dussor, Nathanial A. Jeske, Amol M. Patwardhan, Anibal Diogenes, Amanda A. Trott, Kenneth M. Hargreaves, Christopher M. Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Background: Nerve growth factor (NGF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) all play important roles in the development of the peripheral sensory nervous system. Additionally, these growth factors are proposed to modulate the properties of the sensory system in the adult under pathological conditions brought about by nerve injury or inflammation. We have examined the effects of NGF, GDNF and BDNF on adult rat trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons in culture to gain a better understanding of how these growth factors alter the cytochemical and functional phenotype of these neurons, with special attention to properties associated with nociception. Results: Compared with no growth factor controls, GDNF, at 1 and 100 ng/ml, significantly increased by nearly 100% the number of neurons in culture at 5 days post-plating. A significant, positive, linear trend of increasing neuron number as a function of BDNF concentration was observed, also peaking at nearly 100%. NGF treatment was without effect. Chronic treatment with NGF and GDNF significantly and concentration-dependently increased 100 nM capsaicin (CAP)-evoked calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) release, reaching approximately 300% at the highest concentration tested (100 ng/ml). Also, NGF and GDNF each augmented anandamide (AEA)- and arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide (ACEA)-evoked CGRP release, while BDNF was without effect. Utilizing immunohistochemistry to account for the proportions of TRPV1- or CGRP-positive neurons under each growth factor treatment condition and then standardizing evoked CGRP release to these proportions, we observed that NGF was much more effective in enhancing CAP- and 50 mM K+-evoked CGRP release than was GDNF. Furthermore, NGF and GDNF each altered the concentration-response function for CAP- and AEA-evoked CGRP release, increasing the Emax without altering the EC50 for either compound. Conclusions: Taken together, our results illustrate that NGF, GDNF and BDNF differentially alter TG sensory neuron survival, neurochemical properties and TRPV1-mediated neuropeptide release in culture. In particular, our findings suggest that GDNF and NGF differentially modulate TRPV1-mediated neuropeptide secretion sensitivity, with NGF having a much greater effect on a per neuron basis than GDNF. These findings are discussed in relation to possible therapeutic roles for growth factors or their modulators in pathological pain states, especially as these relate to the trigeminal system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalBMC Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 24 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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