Intranasal Nerve Growth Factor administration improves cerebral functions in a child with severe traumatic brain injury: A case report

Antonio Chiaretti, Giorgio Conti, Benedetto Falsini, Danilo Buonsenso, Matteo Crasti, Luigi Manni, Marzia Soligo, Claudia Fantacci, Orazio Genovese, Maria Lucia Calcagni, Daniela Di Giuda, Maria Vittoria Mattoli, Fabrizio Cocciolillo, Pietro Ferrara, Antonio Ruggiero, Susanna Staccioli, Giovanna Stefania Colafati, Riccardo Riccardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nerve growth factor (NGF) promotes neural recovery after experimental traumatic brain injury (TBI) supporting neuronal growth, differentiation and survival of brain cells and up-regulating the neurogenesis-associated protein Doublecortin (DCX). Only a few studies reported NGF administration in paediatric patients with severe TBI. Methods: A four-year-old boy in a persistent unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) was treated with intranasal murine NGF administration 6 months after severe TBI. The patient received four cycles of intranasal NGF (0.1 mg/kg, twice a day for 10 consecutive days). Results: NGF administration improved functional [Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT); Single photon emission/Computed Tomography (SPECT/CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)] assessment, electrophysiological [Electroencephalogram (EEG) and Visual Evoked Potential (VEP)] studies and clinical conditions. He showed improvements in voluntary movements, facial mimicry, phonation, attention and verbal comprehension, ability to cry, cough reflex, oral motility, feeding capacity, and bowel and urinary functions. After NGF administration, raised levels of both NGF and DCX were found in the cerebrospinal fluid of the patient. No side effects were reported. Conclusions: Although further studies are needed for better understanding the neuroprotective role of this neurotrophin, intranasal NGF administration appears to be a promising and safe rescuing strategy treatment in children with neurological impairment after TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1538-1547
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Sep 19 2017


  • Doublecortin
  • intranasal administration
  • Nerve Growth Factor
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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