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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2000;14 Suppl 1:S31-8.

Nerve growth factor treatment in dementia.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.


Millions of people are affected by Alzheimer disease. As longevity increases, so will the number of patients with dementia. This has led to an intense search for successful treatment strategies. One area of interest is neurotrophic factors. Brain development and neuronal maintenance, as well as protective efforts, are mediated by a large number of different neurotrophic factors acting on specific receptors. In neurodegenerative disorders, there may be a possibility of rescuing degenerating neurons and stimulating terminal outgrowth with use of neurotrophic factors. The first neurotrophic factor discovered was nerve growth factor (NGF). A wealth of animal studies have shown that cholinergic neurons are NGF sensitive and NGF dependent, which is especially interesting in cognitive disorders, in which central cholinergic projections are important for cognitive function. In Alzheimer disease, cholinergic neurons have been shown to degenerate. This suggests that NGF may be used to pharmacologically counteract cholinergic degeneration and/or induce terminal sprouting in Alzheimer disease. Data from animal studies, as well as from the author's recent clinical trial, in which NGF was infused to the lateral ventricle in patients with Alzheimer disease, will be presented. Effects of NGF on cognition, as well as issues regarding dosage, side effects, and alternative ways of administering NGF, will be discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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