The role of TGF-β superfamily signaling in neurological disorders

Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2018 Jan 1;50(1):106-120. doi: 10.1093/abbs/gmx124.


The TGF-β superfamily signaling is involved in a variety of biological processes during embryogenesis and in adult tissue homeostasis. Faulty regulation of the signaling pathway that transduces the TGF-β superfamily signals accordingly leads to a number of ailments, such as cancer and cardiovascular, metabolic, urinary, intestinal, skeletal, and immune diseases. In recent years, a number of studies have elucidated the essential roles of TGF-βs and BMPs during neuronal development in the maintenance of appropriate innervation and neuronal activity. The new advancement implicates significant roles of the aberrant TGF-β superfamily signaling in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders. In this review, we compile a number of reports implicating the deregulation of TGF-β/BMP signaling pathways in the pathogenesis of cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders in animal models and patients. We apologize in advance that the review falls short of providing details of the role of TGF-β/BMP signaling or mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of neurological disorders. The goal of this article is to reveal a gap in our knowledge regarding the association between TGF-β/BMP signaling pathways and neuronal tissue homeostasis and development and facilitate the research with a potential to develop new therapies for neurological ailments by modulating the pathways.

Keywords: BMP; GDFs; TGF-β; cognitive disease; neurodegenerative disease; neurons.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nervous System / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta