Neurotrophins play an essential role in nerve systems. Recent reports indicated that neurotrophins [nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5)] have numerous effects on non-neural cells, especially on immune cells. However, whether lung cells express neurotrophins and/or their receptors (TrkA for NGF, TrkB for BDNF and NT-4/5, and TrkC for NT-3) has never been systematically investigated. We investigated constitutive expression of neurotrophin family and their Trk receptor family in alveolar macrophages and other peripheral lung cells of mice. New findings were: (1) RT-PCR for neurotrophins and their receptors detected NT-3 and NT-4/5 in alveolar macrophages, BDNF, NT-4/5, trkA, the truncated form of trkB, and trkC in lung, homogenate, but no trks in alveolar macrophages, (2) immunohistochemistry for neurotrophin receptors detected TrkA in capillary cells, the truncated form of TrkB, and TrkC in interstitial macrophages, (3) immunoelectron microscopy for TrkC revealed expression of TrkC on the surface of interstitial macrophages, and (4) in situ hybridization for neurotrophins detected BDNF in interstitial macrophages and alveolar type I cells, NT-3 in alveolar macrophages, and NT-4/5 in alveolar and interstitial macrophages. These findings indicate that a previously unknown signal trafficking occurs through neurotrophins in peripheral lung.
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