Expression of nerve growth factor in the airways and its possible role in asthma

Prog Brain Res. 2004;146:335-46. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(03)46021-4.


Nerve growth factor (NGF), in addition to its essential role in neuronal growth and survival, may also act as an inflammatory mediator. As several animal studies have shown, NGF appears to play a part in the development of airway hyperresponsiveness and in the increased sympathetic and sensory innervation of the lung. It also has a profound effect on airway inflammation and asthma-related symptoms. Sources of NGF in the airways are numerous: inflammatory cells infiltrated into the bronchial mucosa, and structural cells including lung fibroblasts, airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells. These cells, by releasing more NGF in inflammatory conditions, may contribute to the increased NGF levels observed in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and serum from patients with asthma. Taken together, these results suggest that NGF is an important mediator in both inflammation and asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / metabolism*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology
  • Lung / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factor / physiology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Ovalbumin / adverse effects
  • Trachea / cytology
  • Trachea / drug effects
  • Trachea / metabolism*


  • Interleukin-1
  • Ovalbumin
  • Nerve Growth Factor