The influence of inhalative corticosteroids on circulating Nerve Growth Factor, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Neurotrophin-3 in allergic asthmatics

Clin Exp Allergy. 2001 Dec;31(12):1906-12. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.2001.01249.x.


Background: The neurotrophins Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and Neurotrophin (NT)-3 are produced, stored and released by various immunological cells. The influence of NTs upon the function of these cells is described. Elevated plasma levels were found in inflammatory, autoimmune and allergic diseases with the highest levels in allergic asthma. A connection between bronchial hyper-responsiveness and serum levels has been reported.

Objective: Little is known about the influence of treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) on serum NT levels and their influence on the asthmatic state.

Methods: Eighty-seven volunteers were studied. Thirty-eight were stable allergic asthmatics with constant ICS doses, 29 were asthmatics not receiving anti-asthmatic treatment and 20 were age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Demographic and lung function data were evaluated. NT serum levels were determined by ELISA.

Results: NGF and BDNF levels were significantly increased in untreated asthmatics compared to the control and the treated group, while NT-3 demonstrated significantly higher levels in treated asthmatics compared to healthy controls. After stabilization of untreated subjects with ICS, the NT levels decreased significantly.

Conclusions: These results suggest that NTs participate in allergic inflammation and asthma. Effective treatment leads to a decrease of circulating neurotrophic factors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Blood Circulation / drug effects*
  • Blood Circulation / immunology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / drug effects
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / blood supply
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Male
  • Nerve Growth Factor / blood*
  • Nerve Growth Factor / drug effects*
  • Neurotrophin 3 / blood*
  • Neurotrophin 3 / drug effects*
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Therapy*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Neurotrophin 3
  • Nerve Growth Factor