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Expert Rev Neurother. 2002 May;2(3):417-26. doi: 10.1586/14737175.2.3.417.

Therapy of neurodegenerative diseases using neurotrophic factors: cell biological perspective.

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GSF Research Center, Clinical Neurogenetics, Ingolst├Ądter, Landstrasse 1, Neuherberg, Germany.


Neurotrophic growth factors are a structurally diverse group of endogenous proteins, which profoundly regulate survival and multiple other cellular functions of healthy and diseased neurons. Their physiological targets include all neuronal cell types affected by neurodegenerative diseases. Initial clinical trials, which were based on strong and convincing neuroprotective effects in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases, have failed so far. In this review, we adopt a cell biological perspective to outline both the potential and problems of the therapeutic use of trophic factors in the nervous system. Emphasis is given to the functional interplay of neurotrophic factors in the regulation of cell death, as well as to the effects these proteins exert on neuronal morphology and synaptic transmission.


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