NGF in Early Embryogenesis, Differentiation, and Pathology in the Nervous and Immune Systems

  • Luisa Bracci-LaudieroEmail author
  • Maria Egle De Stefano
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 29)


The physiology of NGF is extremely complex, and although the study of this neurotrophin began more than 60 years ago, it is far from being concluded. NGF, its precursor molecule pro-NGF, and their different receptor systems (i.e., TrkA, p75NTR, and sortilin) have key roles in the development and adult physiology of both the nervous and immune systems. Although the NGF receptor system and the pathways activated are similar for all types of cells sensitive to NGF, the effects exerted during embryonic differentiation and in committed mature cells are strikingly different and sometimes opposite. Bearing in mind the pleiotropic effects of NGF, alterations in its expression and synthesis, as well as variations in the types of receptor available and in their respective levels of expression, may have profound effects and play multiple roles in the development and progression of several diseases. In recent years, the use of NGF or of inhibitors of its receptors has been prospected as a therapeutic tool in a variety of neurological diseases and injuries. In this review, we outline the different roles played by the NGF system in various moments of nervous and immune system differentiation and physiology, from embryonic development to aging. The data collected over the past decades indicate that NGF activities are highly integrated among systems and are necessary for the maintenance of homeostasis. Further, more integrated and multidisciplinary studies should take into consideration these multiple and interactive aspects of NGF physiology in order to design new therapeutic strategies based on the manipulation of NGF and its intracellular pathways.


Neurotrophin proNGF NGF receptors Neuronal degeneration Inflammation 



Calcitonin gene-related peptide


Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis


Central nervous system


CRE-binding protein


Dorsal root ganglion


Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis


Extracellular signal-regulated kinase




Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Nerve growth factor


Neuropeptide Y




p75neurotrophin receptor


Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase


Protein kinase C


Phospholipase C


Peripheral nervous system


Son of sevenless


Substance P


Tyrosine hydroxylase


Tropomyosin-related kinase A


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luisa Bracci-Laudiero
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Maria Egle De Stefano
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Translational PharmacologyConsiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche (CNR)RomeItaly
  2. 2.Bambino Gesù Children HospitalIRCCSRomeItaly
  3. 3.Istituto Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Department of Biology and Biotechnology “Charles Darwin”University of Rome La SapienzaRomeItaly
  4. 4.Center for Research in Neurobiology “Daniel Bovet”Università Di Roma La SapienzaRomeItaly

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