Peripheral nerve regeneration and neurotrophic factors

J Anat. 1999 Jan;194 ( Pt 1)(Pt 1):1-14. doi: 10.1046/j.1469-7580.1999.19410001.x.


The role of neurotrophic factors in the maintenance and survival of peripheral neuronal cells has been the subject of numerous studies. Administration of exogenous neurotrophic factors after nerve injury has been shown to mimic the effect of target organ-derived trophic factors on neuronal cells. After axotomy and during peripheral nerve regeneration, the neurotrophins NGF, NT-3 and BDNF show a well defined and selective beneficial effect on the survival and phenotypic expression of primary sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia and of motoneurons in spinal cord. Other neurotrophic factors such as CNTF, GDNF and LIF also exert a variety of actions on neuronal cells, which appear to overlap and complement those of the neurotrophins. In addition, there is an indirect contribution of GGF to nerve regeneration. GGF is produced by neurons and stimulates proliferation of Schwann cells, underlining the close interaction between neuronal and glial cells during peripheral nerve regeneration. Different possibilities have been investigated for the delivery of growth factors to the injured neurons, in search of a suitable system for clinical applications. The studies reviewed in this article show the therapeutic potential of neurotrophic factors for the treatment of peripheral nerve injury and for neuropathies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerves / drug effects
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Schwann Cells / metabolism*


  • Nerve Growth Factors