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REVIEW: Role of Nerve Growth Factor in Plasticity of Forebrain Cholinergic Neurons

N. K. Isaev1,2*, E. V. Stelmashook2, and E. E. Genrikhs2

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: isaev@genebee.msu.ru

2Research Center of Neurology, 125367 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: estelmash@mail.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received October 29, 2016; Revision received November 11, 2016
Neuronal plastic rearrangements during the development and functioning of neurons are largely regulated by trophic factors, including nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is also involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. In the brain, NGF is produced in structures innervated by basal forebrain cholinergic neurons and retrogradely transported along the axons to the bodies of cholinergic neurons. NGF is essential for normal development and functioning of the basal forebrain; it affects formation of the dendritic tree and modulates the activities of choline acetyltransferase and acetylcholinesterase in basal forebrain neurons. The trophic effect of NGF is mediated through its interactions with TrkA and p75 receptors. Experimental and clinical studies have shown that brain levels of NGF are altered in various pathologies. However, the therapeutic use of NGF is limited by its poor ability to penetrate the blood–brain barrier, adverse side effects that are due to the pleiotropic action of this factor, and the possibility of immune response to NGF. For this reason, the development of gene therapy methods for treating NGF deficit-associated pathologies is of particular interest. Another approach is creation of low molecular weight NGF mimetics that would interact with the corresponding receptors and display high biological activity but be free of the unfavorable effects of NGF.
KEY WORDS: nerve growth factor, cholinergic neurons, plasticity, Alzheimer’s disease

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297917030075