Neurotrophic factors

Introduction
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By K K Jain MD

Neurotrophic factors regulate the proliferation, survival, migration, and differentiation of cells in the nervous system. In this clinical article, Dr. K K Jain, a neurology consultant in Basel, Switzerland, introduces the role of neurotrophic factors in the pathophysiology of neurologic disorders and their potential therapeutic applications, which are covered in a series of related articles. Some of the failures of neurotrophic factors in clinical trials are related to the difficulty of delivering them to the site of action in the nervous system. Various approaches to overcome this problem include neurotrophic factor delivery by special devices and gene therapy.

Key points

  • Neurotrophic factors regulate the proliferation, survival, migration, and differentiation of cells in the nervous system.
  • Several neurotrophic factors have been identified and investigated for treatment of neurologic disorders.
  • Besides their role in regeneration, neurotrophic factors also have neuroprotective functions.
  • Delivery of neurotrophic factors to the central nervous system is a problem as the large molecules do not easily cross the blood-brain barrier.
  • Apart from direct delivery to the brain, neurotrophic factors can also be delivered by cell and gene therapies.

In This Article

Introduction
Historical note and nomenclature
Description
Clinical applications
References cited
Contributors