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Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Aug;55(8):6939-6955. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-0885-3. Epub 2018 Jan 25.

Drug Targets in Neurotrophin Signaling in the Central and Peripheral Nervous System.

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Department of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA.
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, 35294, USA.
Department of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA.


Neurotrophins are a family of proteins that play an important role in the regulation of the growth, survival, and differentiation of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous system. Neurotrophins were earlier characterized by their role in early development, growth, maintenance, and the plasticity of the nervous system during development, but recent findings also indicate their complex role during normal physiology in both neuronal and non-neuronal tissues. Therefore, it is important to recognize a deficiency in the expression of neurotrophins, a major factor driving the debilitating features of several neurologic and psychiatric diseases/disorders. On the other hand, overexpression of neurotrophins is well known to play a critical role in pathogenesis of chronic pain and afferent sensitization, underlying conditions such as lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS)/disorders and osteoarthritis. The existence of a redundant receptor system of high-and low-affinity receptors accounts for the diverse, often antagonistic, effects of neurotrophins in neurons and non-neuronal tissues in a spatial and temporal manner. In addition, studies looking at bladder dysfunction because of conditions such as spinal cord injury and diabetes mellitus have found alterations in the levels of these neurotrophins in the bladder, as well as in sensory afferent neurons, which further opens a new avenue for therapeutic targets. In this review, we will discuss the characteristics and roles of key neurotrophins and their involvement in the central and periphery nervous system in both normal and diseased conditions.


BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor); Bladder and development; NGF (nerve growth factor); Neurotrophins


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