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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jun 2019 - 21 Jun 2019

Pharmacology/Drug Development


Curr Neuropharmacol



Partners in crime: NGF and BDNF in visceral dysfunction.


Coelho A, Oliveira R, Antunes-Lopes T, Cruz C D
Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019; 17(11):1021-1038.
PMID: 31204623.


Neurotrophins (NTs), particularly Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), have attracted increasing attention in the context of visceral function for some years. Here, we examined current literature and produced a thorough review on the subject. After initial studies linking NGF to cystitis, it is now well-established that this neurotrophin (NT) is a key modulator of bladder pathologies, including Bladder Pain Syndrome/Interstitial Cystitis (BPS/IC) and Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CP/CPPS. NGF is upregulated in bladder tissue and its blockade results in major improvements on urodynamic parameters and pain. Further studies expanded showed that NGF is also an intervenient in other visceral dysfunctions such as endometriosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). More recently, BDNF was also shown to play an important role in the same visceral dysfunctions, suggesting that both NTs are determinant factors in visceral pathophysiological mechanisms. While manipulation of NGF and BDNF improves visceral function and reduce pain, suggesting that clinical modulation of these NTs may be important, much is still to be investigated before this step is taken. Another active area of research is centred on urinary NGF and BDNF. Several studies show that both NTs can be found in the urine of patients with visceral dysfunction in much higher concentration than in healthy individuals, suggesting they could be used as potential biomarkers. However, there are still technical difficulties to be overcome, including the lack of a large multicentre placebo controlled studies to prove the relevance of urinary NTs as clinical biomarkers.