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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2005 May;15(3):319-29.

The possible role of neurotrophins in the pathogenesis and therapy of schizophrenia.

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Adolescent Inpatient Department, Geha Psychiatric Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, P.O. Box 102, Petah Tiqva 49 100, Israel.


The pathogenesis of schizophrenia may be ascribed to early maldevelopment of brain tissue. Neurotrophins are a group of dimeric proteins that affect the development of the nervous system in all vertebrates' species. Since neurotrophins, as well as other growth factors, play a crucial role in neurodevelopment, they are plausible candidates of taking part in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. In line with this hypothesis, accumulating preclinical and clinical data indicate that dysfunctions of nerve growth factor (NGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) may contribute to impaired brain development, neuroplasticity and synaptic "dysconnectivity" leading to the schizophrenic syndrome, or at least some of its presentations. This article reviews the functions of neurotrophins in the complex process of normal brain development, and their possible relevance to the neuropathology and neuropharmacology of schizophrenia. Further research in this area may bring about novel pharmacological therapeutic strategies to this chronic debilitating disorder.

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