BDNF and NGF signals originating from sensory ganglia promote cranial motor axon growth

  • Lianlian Li
  • Qin Pu
  • Maik Hintze
  • Yong Wang
  • Matthias Eckhardt
  • Volkmar Gieselmann
  • Inga Tiemann
  • Xufeng Qi
  • Dongqing Cai
  • Jianlin Wang
  • Ruijin HuangEmail author
Research Article


After exiting the hindbrain, branchial motor axons reach their targets in association with sensory ganglia. The trigeminal ganglion has been shown to promote motor axon growth from rhombomeres 2/3 and 4/5, but it is unknown whether this effect is ganglion specific and through which signals it is mediated. Here, we addressed these questions by co-cultures of ventral rhombomere 8 explants with cranial and spinal sensory ganglia in a collagen gel matrix. Our results show that all cranial sensory ganglia and even a trunk dorsal root ganglion can promote motor axon growth and that ganglia isolated from older embryos had a stronger effect on the axonal growth than younger ones. We found that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) are necessary and sufficient for this effect. Altogether, our results demonstrate that the promoting effect of sensory ganglia on cranial motor axon growth is stage dependent, but not ganglion specific and is mediated by BDNF and NGF signals.


Sensory ganglion Cranial motor neuron BDNF NGF Axonal growth 



We are grateful for the technical assistance of Sandra Graefe in the Institute of Anatomy and Mr. Heinz Bioernsen in the Institute of Animal Science. We thank Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank, Iowa City, IA, USA, for the antibody. This work was supported by grant of the DFG-Hu 729/10 and DFG-Hu 729/13 to R.H. and by the China Scholarship Council to J.W. and L.L.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lianlian Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Qin Pu
    • 1
  • Maik Hintze
    • 1
  • Yong Wang
    • 4
  • Matthias Eckhardt
    • 4
  • Volkmar Gieselmann
    • 4
  • Inga Tiemann
    • 5
  • Xufeng Qi
    • 6
  • Dongqing Cai
    • 6
  • Jianlin Wang
    • 2
  • Ruijin Huang
    • 1
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Neuroanatomy, Institute of AnatomyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Zoology, School of Life ScienceLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  3. 3.Institute of Basic MedicineShandong Academy of Medical SciencesJinanChina
  4. 4.Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Animal ScienceUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  6. 6.Key Laboratory of Regenerative MedicineMinistry of Education, Jinan UniversityGuangzhouChina
  7. 7.Department of Molecular Embryology, Institute of Anatomy and Cell BiologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburg im BreisgauGermany

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