Sex differences in nerve growth factor levels in superior cervical ganglia and pineals

L. L. Wright, C. Beck, J. R. Perez-Polo

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    14 Scopus citations


    The current studies were undertaken to determine whether males or neonatally testosterone-treated rats of either gender have elevated endogenous levels of NGF in the SCG and one of its targets, the pineal gland. The ages studied were 5 days postnatal, which is at the peak of normal neuron death in the SCG but before a significant gender difference is present; 15 days, when normal neuron death is largely complete and males have more SCG neurons than females; and 30 days, when target innervation has matured. At 5 days, while neuron death is occurring, but before there is a significant gender difference in neuron number in the SCG, pineal glands and SCGs of males had higher NGF content than those of females. The increased NGF in the ganglia of males at the time that these neurons are undergoing neuron death may play a role in the development of the sex difference in SCG neuron numbers. At 15 days, females had more NGF in their pineal glands and SCGs than did males, even though males have significantly more SCG neurons at this age than do females. This gender difference in the developmental course of NGF content could promote the survival of different populations of neurons in males and females. By 30 days, SCG and pineal NGF content of males was almost twice that of females. This is consistent with the presence of more neurons in the SCGs of males at this age. Both the pineal gland and the SCG showed a loss of approximately 80% content of NGF during the first postnatal month. In males, this loss occurred between postnatal days 5 and 15, while in females, the drop in NGF content occurred between postnatal days 15 and 30. Treatment with testosterone from birth reduced NGF content in the SCGs of both males and females at 5 days of age. The depression of NGF levels by testosterone treatment may reflect a further acceleration of the developmental fall of NGC levels.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)383-390
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
    Issue number5-6
    StatePublished - 1987


    • Neuron death
    • Rat
    • Sympathetic
    • Testosterone

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental Neuroscience
    • Developmental Biology


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