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Prog Growth Factor Res. 1990;2(4):237-48.

The nerve growth factor family.

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Max-Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Department of Neurochemistry, Martinsried, F.R.G.


Nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) are small, basic, secretory proteins that allow the survival of specific neuronal populations. In their biologically active form, after cleavage from their biosynthetic precursors, these three neurotrophic proteins, or neurotrophins, show about 50% amino acid identities. The genes coding for the neurotrophins are not only expressed during development, but also in the adult, in a variety of tissues including the central nervous system. In the adult brain, the hippocampal formation is the site of highest expression of the three neurotrophin genes. These genes are expressed in neurons, and the mRNA levels of two of them (NGF and BDNF) have been shown to be regulated by neurotransmitters. There are also convincing indications that the administration of NGF prevents the atrophy and death of axotomized cholinergic neurons in the adult central nervous system, and improves the performance of rats selected for their poor memory retention in simple behavioral tasks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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