Ashutosh Kumar, Vikas Pareek, Muneeb A. Faiq, Pavan Kumar, Khursheed Raza, Pranav Prasoon, Subrahamanyam Dantham, Sankat Mochan
March 27, 2017
Nerve growth factors (NGFs), especially the prototype NGF and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), have a diverse array of functions in the central nervous system through their peculiar set of receptors and intricate signaling. They are implicated not only in the development of the nervous system but also in regulation of neurocognitive functions like learning, memory, synaptic transmission, and plasticity. Evidence even suggests their role in continued neurogenesis and experience-dependent neural network remodeling in adult brain. They have also been associated extensively with brain disorders characterized by neurocognitive dysfunction. In the present article, we aimed to make an exhaustive review of literature to get a comprehensive view on the role of NGFs in neurocognitive functions in health and disease. Starting with historical perspective, distribution in adult brain, implied molecular mechanisms, and developmental basis, this article further provides a detailed account of NGFs’ role in specified neurocognitive functions. Furthermore, it discusses plausible NGF-based homeostatic and adaptation mechanisms operating in the pathogenesis of neurocognitive disorders and has presents a survey of such disorders. Finally, it elaborates on current evidence and future possibilities in therapeutic applications of NGFs with an emphasis on recent research updates in drug delivery mechanisms. Conclusive remarks of the article make a strong case for plausible role of NGFs in comprehensive regulation of the neurocognitive functions and pathogenesis of related disorders and advocate that future research should be directed to explore use of NGF-based mechanisms in the prevention of implicated diseases as well as to target these molecules pharmacologically.