• nerve injury;
  • neurotrophin;
  • rescue


Little is known about the role of neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5) in the regeneration of mechanoreceptors. Therefore, the present study examined the regeneration process of Ruffini endings in the periodontal ligament in nt-4/5-deficient and wildtype mice following transection of the inferior alveolar nerve by immunohistochemistry for protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5), a general neuronal marker, and by computer-assisted quantitative image analysis. Furthermore, rescue experiments by a continuous administration of recombinant NT-4/5 were performed and analyzed quantitatively. At postoperative day 3 (PO 3d), almost all PGP 9.5-positive neural elements had disappeared; they began to appear in both types of animals at PO 7d. At PO 10d, almost all nerve fibers showed a beaded appearance, with fewer ramifications in both types of mice. Although the regeneration proceeded in the wildtype, a major population of the periodontal Ruffini endings continued to display smooth outlines at PO 28d in the nt-4/5 homozygous mice. The reduction ratio of neural density reached a maximum at PO 3d, decreased at PO 10d, and later showed a plateau. In a rescue experiment, an administration of NT-4/5 showed an acceleration of nerve regeneration in the homozygous mice. These findings indicate that the nt-4/5-depletion causes a delay in the regeneration of the periodontal Ruffini endings, but the delay is shortened by an exogenous administration of NT-4/5. Combined with our previous findings of bdnf-deficient mice (Harada et al. [2003] Arch Histol Cytol 66:183–194), these morphological and numerical data suggest that multiple neurotrophins such as NT-4/5 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) play roles in their regeneration in a stage-specific manner. J. Comp. Neurol. 501:400–412, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.