The neurotrophins (neurotrophic factors) comprise nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin (NT)-4/5 and NT-3. Each has a specific receptor containing a kinase domain in the cytosolic region and the signal transduction pathways mediated by the neurotrophins are initiated via the phosphorylation of these receptors. One such pathway driven by the neurotrophins has been reported to be an important component of an anti-apoptotic mechanism. Neurodegenerative diseases exert their effects via endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-mediated apoptosis. In this review, we focus on ER stress-mediated pro-apoptotic mechanisms and the anti-apoptotic properties of neurotrophins which promote neuronal survival. We discuss the roles of the neurotrophic factors in neuronal cells and the potential of these factors as therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases. We further discuss the possible relationship between endocrine-disrupting chemicals and ER stress-mediated diseases in neurons.
Buy this Article