The NGF Metabolic Pathway: New Opportunities for Biomarker Research and Drug Target Discovery : NGF Pathway Biomarkers and Drug Targets

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021;1331:31-48. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-74046-7_4.


Recent research has demonstrated that degeneration of the basal forebrain cholinergic system, far from being a mere downstream mediator of Alzheimer's disease (AD) symptoms, may play a disease-aggravating role in the continuum of AD pathology. The search for novel biomarkers of the cholinergic deficit in AD and novel therapeutic targets for the sustenance of the basal forebrain cholinergic system has therefore taken on more urgency. A novel model that explains the preferential vulnerability of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in AD as the result of pathological alterations to nerve growth factor (NGF) metabolism offers an integrated investigative platform for the development of such biomarkers and therapeutics. By positing a reciprocal trophic interaction between the basal forebrain and its target tissues, this model can also explain the disease-modifying nature of the cholinergic deficit in AD and can incorporate other key factors in basal forebrain cholinergic degeneration, including NGF receptor changes and retrograde transport deficits in AD. This chapter will focus on the potential of NGF metabolic pathway biomarkers in AD as well as therapeutic targets to correct NGF metabolic deficits, aiding the development of novel pro-cholinergic therapeutics.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Biomarker; Cholinergic; Down syndrome; NGF metabolism; NGF pathway; Therapeutics.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / drug therapy
  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*


  • Biomarkers
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Nerve Growth Factor