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More MS news articles for January 2004

Role of nerve growth factor and other trophic factors in brain inflammation

Prog Brain Res. 2004; 146: 403-14
Villoslada P, Genain CP.
Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Department of Neurology, University of Navarra, Spain.

Inflammation in the brain is a double-edged process that may be beneficial in promoting homeostasis and repair, but can also result in tissue injury through the damaging potential of inflammatory mediators.

Thus, control mechanisms that minimize the extent of the inflammatory reaction are necessary in order to help preserve brain architecture and restore function.

The expression of neurotrophic factors such as nerve growth factor (NGF) is increased after brain injury, in part mediated by effects on astrocytes of pro-inflammatory mediators and cytokines produced by immune cells.

Conversely, cells of the immune system express NGF receptors, and NGF signaling modulates immune function.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) and the disease model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis are neurodegenerative disorders whereby chronic destruction of the brain parenchyma results from an autoaggressive, immune-mediated inflammatory process and insufficient tissue regeneration.

Here, we review evidence indicating that the increased production of NGF and other trophic factors in central nervous system (CNS) during these diseases can suppress inflammation by switching the immune response to an anti-inflammatory, suppressive mode in a brain-specific environment.

Thus, trophic factors networks in the adult CNS not only protects axons and myelin but appear to also actively contribute to the maintenance of the brain immune privilege.

These agents may represent good targets for therapeutic intervention in MS and other chronic CNS inflammatory diseases.