NGF and its receptors in the regulation of inflammatory response

Gaetana Minnone, Fabrizio De Benedetti, Luisa Bracci-Laudiero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


There is growing interest in the complex relationship between the nervous and immune systems and how its alteration can affect homeostasis and result in the development of inflammatory diseases. A key mediator in cross-talk between the two systems is nerve growth factor (NGF), which can influence both neuronal cell function and immune cell activity. The up-regulation of NGF described in inflamed tissues of many diseases can regulate innervation and neuronal activity of peripheral neurons, inducing the release of immune-active neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, but can also directly influence innate and adaptive immune responses. Expression of the NGF receptors tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) and p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) is dynamically regulated in immune cells, suggesting a varying requirement for NGF depending on their state of differentiation and functional activity. NGF has a variety of effects that can be either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. This apparent contradiction can be explained by considering NGF as part of an endogenous mechanism that, while activating immune responses, also activates pathways necessary to dampen the inflammatory response and limit tissue damage. Decreases in TrkA expression, such as that recently demonstrated in immune cells of arthritis patients, might prevent the activation by NGF of regulatory feed-back mechanisms, thus contributing to the development and maintenance of chronic inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1028
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 11 2017


  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Innate immunity
  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Sensory sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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