Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor, an Example of a Multifunctional Trophic Factor with Neurotrophic Activity

  • Patricia Ann Walicke
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 36)


All neurons are believed to require trophic factors for support of their survival and process growth. Conversely, neuronal atrophy and death after CNS injury or during aging have been ascribed to deficiencies of trophic factors (1). For many years, the only known neurotrophic factor (NTF) was nerve growth factor (NGF). Studies with NGF have led to significant insights into neuronal cell biology and development, particularly in the peripheral nervous system. Models constructed from its actions on sympathetic and sensory neurons have been generalized to principles guiding the growth of all neurons. The recent recognition that NGF is a NTF for cholinergic septal and basal neurons has allowed seminal studies on the regulation of neuronal growth in the CNS and holds potential implications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. But it also must be remembered that NGF is not a universal NTF, and that its targets in the CNS are limited to only a few populations of neurons (2–4). Even many of the other neuronal populations affected in Alzheimer’s disease, such as entorhinal cortical and hippocampal neurons, are not responsive to NGF. Therefore, many laboratories have searched for the novel NTFs hypothesized to exist for these other neurons, but the results have been frustrating. Only one other NTF closely resembling NGF in its chemistry and biological activity has been isolated, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). But as with NGF, most of the known targets of BDNF are peripheral sensory neurons (2,5,6).


Nerve Growth Factor Fibroblast Growth Factor Hippocampal Neuron Heparan Sulfate Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Ann Walicke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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