NGF protects corneal, retinal, and cutaneous tissues/cells from phototoxic effect of UV exposure

  • Maria Luisa Rocco
  • Bijorn Omar Balzamino
  • Luigi Aloe
  • Alessandra Micera
Basic Science



Based on evidence that nerve growth factor (NGF) exerts healing action on damaged corneal, retinal, and cutaneous tissues, the present study sought to assess whether topical NGF application can prevent and/or protect epithelial cells from deleterious effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.


Eyes from 40 young-adult Sprague Dawley rats and cutaneous tissues from 36 adult nude mice were exposed to UVA/B lamp for 60 min, either alone or in the presence of murine NGF. Corneal, retinal, and cutaneous tissues were sampled/processed for morphological, immunohistochemical, and biomolecular analysis, and results were compared statistically.


UV exposure affected both biochemical and molecular expression of NGF and trkANGFR in corneal, retinal, and cutaneous tissues while UV exposure coupled to NGF treatment enhanced NGF and trkANGFR expression as well as reduced cell death.


Overall, the findings of this in vivo/ex vivo study show the NGF ability to reduce the potential UV damage. Although the mechanism underneath this effect needs further investigation, these observations prospect the development of a pharmacological NGF-based therapy devoted to maintain cell function when exposed to phototoxic UV radiation.


UV radiation NGF trkANGFR Protection Phototoxicity 



BOB and AM were supported by the Italian Ministry of Health and Fondazione Roma (Rome, Italy). LA and MLR were granted by Associazione NGF-Onlus (Rome, Italy) and Fondazione IRET (Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy).


Funding was provided by the Italian Ministry of Health, Fondazione Roma, and NGF-Onlus (Rome, Italy).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Animals were housed at the National Research Council (CNR) animal facility and handled according to the experimental procedure approved by the Ethical Commission on animal experimentation of CNR. Animal care experimental procedures were performed in compliance with the ARVO Statement for the Use of Animals in Ophthalmic and Vision Research, in accordance with National and International laws and policies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology, CNRRomeItaly
  2. 2.Fondazione IRET, Ozzano EmiliaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.IRCCS-G.B. Bietti FoundationRomeItaly
  4. 4.Associazione NGF ONLUSRomeItaly

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