Neurotrophins and neurotrophin receptors in allergic asthma

Prog Brain Res. 2004;146:347-67. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(03)46022-6.


The neurotrophins nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and NT-4 play a pivotal role in the development of the nervous system. Despite their well-known effects on neurons, elevated neurotrophin concentrations have been observed under pathological conditions in sera of patients with inflammatory disorders. Patients with asthma feature both airway inflammation and an abnormal airway reactivity to many unspecific stimuli, referred to as airway hyperresponsiveness, which is, at least partly, neuronally controlled. Interestingly, these patients show increased levels of neurotrophins in the blood as well as locally in the lung. It has been demonstrated that neurotrophin release from immune cells is triggered by allergen contact. The presence of neurotrophins and the neurotrophin receptors p75 (p75NTR), tyrosine kinase A (TrkA), TrkB and TrkC have been described in several immune cells. There is strong evidence for an involvement of neurotrophins in regulation of hematopoiesis and, in addition, in modulation of immune cell function in mature cells circulating in blood or resting in lymphatic organs and peripheral tissues. The aim of this review is to demonstrate possible roles of neurotrophins during an allergic reaction in consideration of the temporospatial compartimentalization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / complications
  • Airway Obstruction / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / metabolism*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Hypersensitivity / metabolism*
  • Immune System
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism*


  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor