Nerve growth factor promotes human hemopoietic colony growth and differentiation.
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Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neurotropic polypeptide necessary for the survival and growth of some central neurons, as well as sensory afferent and sympathetic neurons. Much is now known of the structural and functional characteristics of NGF, whose gene has recently been cloned. Since it is synthesized in largest amounts by the male mouse submandibular gland, its role exclusively in nerve growth is questionable. NGF also causes histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells in vitro, and we have shown elsewhere that it causes significant, dose-dependent, generalized mast cell proliferation in the rat in vivo when administered neonatally. Our experiments now indicate that NGF causes a significant stimulation of granulocyte colonies grown from human peripheral blood in standard hemopoietic methylcellulose assays. Further, NGF appears to act in a relatively selective fashion to induce the differentiation of eosinophils and basophils/mast cells. Depletion experiments show that the NGF effect may be T-cell dependent and that NGF augments the colony-stimulating effect of supernatants from the leukemic T-cell (Mo) line. The hemopoietic activity of NGF is blocked by polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies to NGF. We conclude that NGF may indirectly act as a local growth factor in tissues other than those of the nervous system by causing T cells to synthesize or secrete molecules with colony-stimulating activity. In view of the synthesis of NGF in tissue injury, the involvement of basophils/mast cells and eosinophils in allergic and other inflammatory processes, and the association of mast cells with fibrosis and tissue repair, we postulate that NGF plays an important biological role in a variety of repair processes.
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