Rita Levi-Montalcini and the discovery of NGF, the first nerve cell growth factor

Luigi Aloe


The nerve growth factor (NGF) is a signaling protein, discovered by Rita Levi-Montalcini in the early 1950’s for its effect on growth and differentiation of specific specific populations of neurons of the peripheral nervous system. Originally identified as neurite outgrowth-stimulating factor, later studies revealed that the purified molecule has a number of target cells in the central nervous system and on non-neuronal cells. Moreover, recent studies showed the potential therapeutic properties of NGF in neuropathies of the central and peripheral nervous system and diseases of the eye and skin. Here I briefly describe the discovery of NGF, the early studies of Rita Levi-Montalcini, a pioneer in modern neuroscience, and my scientific and human experience working in her laboratory for over 40 years.


NGF • NGF-receptors • Neurotrophins • Ebri • Collaborators

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4449/aib.v149i2.1377


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