Several conventional and novel growth factors (GFs) canprotect neurons against an array of insults including excitotoxins, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, free radicals and β-amyloid peptide. In tissue culture experiments basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), nerve growth factor (NGF) and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) protected neurons from several brain regions from metabolic/excitotoxic insults. In each case, the GF prevented the sustained elevation of [Ca2+]i that was causally involved in cell injury. Oxidative damage induced by iron, H2O2, 6-hydroxydopamine and MPP+ was attenuated by one or more GFs including bFGF, NGF, IGFs, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Secreted forms of β-amyloid precursor protein (APPss) reduced [Ca2+]i and protected rat and human brain cells against excitotoxicity. The data indicate that: (1) neuroprotection is a major function of GFs in the brain; (2) the neuroprotective mechanism of GFs involves stabilization of [Ca2+]i and suppression of free radicals; (3) activation of GF signal transduction pathways may reduce brain damage in both acute (e.g. stroke and trauma) and chronic (e.g. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases) neurodegenerative conditions.
- basic fibroblast growth factor
- insulin-like growth factor
- nerve growth factor
- β-amyloid precursor protein
ASJC Scopus subject areas