Peripheral nerve injury changes the kinetics of neurotrophins. The production of several neurotrophins increases at the site of injury. Although numerous reports have described changes in neurotrophins over time in areas of nerve injury, neurotrophin mRNA is present at very low levels in target tissues, making accurate quantitation difficult. We developed a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction/ high-performance liquid chromatography (RT-PCR/HPLC) method that enables accurate quantitation of neurotrophin mRNA. We then attempted to quantitate mRNA levels for nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) produced by skeletal muscle innervated by the sciatic nerve following transection and reattachment of the nerve in mice. In addition, wet weights of the muscle were measured and changes in weight over time were determined. The results indicated that neurotrophin production in muscle increases as a result of peripheral nerve denervation due to transection, and decreases with nerve regeneration and reinnervation resulting from reattachment.
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