Localization of nerve growth factor receptors in the normal human brain and in Alzheimer's disease

Franz Hefti, Deborah C. Mash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


NGF receptors were visualized in human brain sections with an immunohistochemical procedure using a monoclonal antibody. This method results in the selective visualization of a population of neurons in the medial septal nucleus, the nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca, and the nucleus basalis of Meynert. Several lines of evidence indicate that this neuronal population is identical to the cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain. NGF receptor immunohistochemistry therefore represents a sensitive and reliable procedure to selectively visualize forebrain cholinergic neurons for post-mortem analysis. NGF receptors were found to be expressed during the entire life span. However, the intracellular staining intensity was reduced in normal aging, suggesting the tentative conclusion that NGF receptor synthesis may decline in the aged brain. In Alzheimer's disease, the number of NGF receptor-positive cells was decreased. The morphological characteristics of surviving neurons were similar to immuno-positive neurons visualized in normal aged brains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-87
Number of pages13
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cholinergic neurons
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nerve growth factor receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)


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