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Nerve growth factor
Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a small secreted protein that is important for the growth,
maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons . It also functions as a signaling molecule.
NGF is critical for the survival and maintenance of sympathetic and sensory neurons. Without it,
these neurons undergo apoptosis. Nerve growth factor causes axonal growth. The structure of
NGF was first solved by X-ray crystallography and published in 1991 by McDonald. NGF forms
a Cystine knot structure made up of beta strands twisted around each other and linked
by disulfide bonds. Most structures are Dimeric. Hence NGF is the founding member of
the nerve growth factor family of structurally conserved proteins.
of neurodegenerative diseases and these encouraging results in animals have led to several
clinical trials in humans. NGF has also been shown to promote peripheral nerve regeneration in
rats. The expression of NGF is increased in inflammatory diseases where it suppresses
inflammation. Also, NGF appears to promote myelin repair. Hence NGF may be useful for the
treatment of multiple sclerosis. Also, NGF has been shown to play a role in
number cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary atherosclerosis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and
metabolic syndrome. Reduced plasma levels of NGF and BDNF have been associated with acute
coronary syndromes and metabolic syndromes. NGF is known to have Insulinotropic,
Angiogenic, and antioxidant properties. NGF suppresses food intake.
NGF has also been shown to accelerate wound healing. There is evidence that it could be useful
in the treatment of skin ulcers and cornea ulcers.