Neuroprotective role of nerve growth factor in hypoxic-ischemic injury. From brain to skin

Antonio Chiaretti, Benedetto Falsini, Luigi Aloe, Filomena Pierri, Claudia Fantacci, Riccardo Riccardi


Hypoxic-ischemic injuries (HII) of the brain, optic pathways, and skin are frequently associated with poor neurological and clinical outcome. Unfortunately, no new therapeutic approaches have been proposed for these conditions. Recently, experimental and clinical studies showed that nerve growth factor (NGF) can improve neurological deficits, visual loss and skin damage after HII. Based on these studies, we report the effects of NGF administration in different lesions of the brain, optic pathways and skin. 2.5S NGF purified and lyophilized from male mouse submaxillary glands was utilized for the treatment. NGF administration was started in absence of recovery after conventional and standardized treatment. One mg NGF was administered via the external catheter into the brain, by drop administration in the eye, and by subcutaneous administration in the skin. We treated 4 patients: 2 children with hypoxic-ischemic brain damage, an adult patient with an optic glioma-induced visual loss and a child with a severe crush syndrome of the lower left limb. After NGF treatment, we observed an amelioration of both neurological and electrophysiological function of the brain, a subjective and objective improvement of visual function, and a gradual improvement of ischemic skin lesion. No side effects were related to NGF treatment in all patients studied. Our observation shows that NGF administration may be an effective and safe adjunct therapy in patients with severe HII. The beneficial and prolonged effect on nerve function suggests a neuroprotective mechanism exerted by NGF on the residual viable neurological pathways of these patients.


Nerve Growth Factor, Hypoxic-Ischemic Injury, Neuroprotection,Key words: Nerve Growth Factor, Hypoxic-Ischemic Injury, Neuroprotection, Neurodifferentiation.

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