Acidic and basic fibroblast growth factors (aFGF and bFGF, respectively) are expressed in high levels in adult central nervous system (CNS). We report the time course of developmental appearance and distribution of these factors and of two FGF receptors, FGFR‐1 and FGFR‐2, in the CNS of rats ranging in age from embryonic day 16 to adult. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that sensory neurons in the midbrain were the first cells to contain detectable aFGF immunoreactivity at embryonic day 18. The next cell group to contain aFGF were motor neurons, which were found to be aFGF‐positive at the day of birth. A number of other subcortical neuronal populations were observed to contain aFGF immunoreactivity after postnatal day 7. Adult levels and distribution patterns of aFGF were reached in all CNS areas by postnatal day 28. Basic FGF immunoreactivity was observed at postnatal day 0 in neurons in the CA2 subfield of hippocampus. Astrocytes contained detectable bFGF immunoreactivity, starting at postnatal day 7. Adult levels and patterns of distribution of bFGF were reached in all CNS areas by postnatal day 28. These immunohistochemical observations were confirmed by using bioassay and Western blot techniques. FGFR‐1 and FGFR‐2 mRNA were expressed in significant levels in all CNS areas at all time points analyzed. The observation that aFGF and bFGF appear in specific and distinct cellular populaitions at relatively late developmental times suggests that these FGFs may be involved in spe6ific mechanisms of CNS maturation, maintenance, and repair. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- heparin binding growth factor
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