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Effect of intranasal nerve growth factor

administration in rats with spinal cord injury


“Maria Rosaria Maglione” Foundation, Naples, Italy

* Institute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine, National Research Council (CNR), Rome, Italy












Progress in Neuroscience 2013; 1 (1-4): 83-90.

doi: 10.14588/PiN.2013.deBellis.83







SUMMARY: BACKGROUND AND AIMS. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is known to play a critical protective role on a number of brain neurons in mammals, including humans. However, its role in the spinal cord is still unclear. Indeed, NGF does not cross the blood-brain barrier if injected subcutaneously or intravenously, and another delivery method is therefore required. Hence the aim of this study was first to investigate whether purified NGF reaches spinal cord neurons and has any effect on the motor skills skills of rats with indued spinal cord injury, and, second, to determine its effect on NGF concentrations and NGF-receptors in injured spinal cord neurons in adult rats when administered via the nasal cavity. 

MATERIALS AND METHODS. Spinal cord injury was surgically induced in adult rats under deep anaesthesia. Purified NGF was then administered to these rats via a single intrathecal injection during surgery and then via the nasal cavity for three consecutive weeks. Untreated controls were subjected to the same experimental protocol but were administered physiological solution in place of NGF. Treated and untreated spinal cord injury rats were subjected to locomotor tests (against healthy controls) prior to sacrifice, spinal tissue harvesting and biochemical and histological analysis, 24 hours after the final dose of intranasal NGF.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS. We found that NGF administered via the nasal route did in fact reach the spinal cord, where it increased the concentration of NGF and enhanced the expression of both high- and low-affinity NGF receptors 24 hours after administration. It was evident that this daily treatment reduced the degenerative signal of injured spinal cord neurons, suggesting that administration of NGF via the nasal cavity could be a useful non-invasive method of NGF delivery into the spinal cord without apparent side effects. This finding opens new avenues for exploring the role of NGF, either alone or in combination with other identified neuroprotective molecules, in spinal cord injury.

KEY WORDS: Nasal administration route, Nerve growth factor, Spinal cord injury.










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