Considerable evidence is mounting to support the concept of a modulatory role for the brain and neuroendocrine system on the immune response. This neuroimmunomodulation occurs in part through the interaction of specific neurosubstances with receptors on lymphocytes and monocytes. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neuronotrophic factor necessary for the development and maintenance of sympathetic and embryonic sensory neurons. This trophic effect is initiated through binding of NGF at specific cell surface receptor sites on NGF-responsive cells. Several recent studies suggest that NGF may interact with cells of the immune system and may play a role in the regulation of some immunologic reactions. In this study we report on the presence of specific receptors for NGF on the surface of mononuclear cells from rat spleens. The NGF-binding sites are of the low-affinity type with K(d)'s in the 10-9 range. These receptors migrate on SDS-PAGE as two molecular species of approximately 190 and 125 kilodaltons. Our findings of receptors for NGF on lymphocytes and accessory cells support other evidence that NGF may influence immunoreactivity in vivo.
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