The Regulatory Effects of Transforming Growth Factor-β on Nerve Regeneration

Cell Transplant. 2017 Mar 13;26(3):381-394. doi: 10.3727/096368916X693824. Epub 2016 Nov 23.


Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) belongs to a group of pleiotropic cytokines that are involved in a variety of biological processes, such as inflammation and immune reactions, cellular phenotype transition, extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. TGF-β is widely distributed throughout the body, including the nervous system. Following injury to the nervous system, TGF-β regulates the behavior of neurons and glial cells and thus mediates the regenerative process. In the current article, we reviewed the production, activation, as well as the signaling pathway of TGF-β. We also described altered expression patterns of TGF-β in the nervous system after nerve injury and the regulatory effects of TGF-β on nerve repair and regeneration in many aspects, including inflammation and immune response, phenotypic modulation of neural cells, neurite outgrowth, scar formation, and modulation of neurotrophic factors. The diverse biological actions of TGF-β suggest that it may become a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of nerve injury and regeneration.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration / drug effects*
  • Neuroglia / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta