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Rev Neurosci. 2009;20(2):133-45.

Nerve growth factor as a signaling molecule for nerve cells and also for the neuroendocrine-immune systems.

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Institute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine, National Research Council, Rome, Italy.


Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a signaling molecule, originally discovered for its role on differentiation and survival of peripheral sensory and sympathetic neurons. It has also been associated with functional activities of cells of the immune and endocrine systems. NGF biological activity is mediated by two classes of receptors: (i) p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)), a 75 kDa glycoprotein, belonging to a superfamily of cytokine receptors including TNF receptors, and (ii) TrkA, a transmembrane tyrosine kinase of 140 kDa. Both TrkA and p75(NTR) are known to play a marked action in neurodegenerative disorders, immune-related deficits, and neuroendocrine (including adipoendocrine) mechanisms. This review focuses on these cellular events and presents a working model which attempts to explain the close interrelationships of the neuro-endocrine-immune triad via a modulatory action of NGF.

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