Neurotrophic factors are a family of proteins that are responsible for the growth and survival of developing neurons and the maintenance of mature neurons.
The neurotrophic factors consists of a class of growth factors that are capable of signaling particular cells to survive, differentiate, or grow.
There are three known families of neurotrophic factors:
1. Neurotrophins, which include four neurotrophic factors:
- nerve growth factor (NGF),
- brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),
- neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and
- neurotrophin-4 (NT-4) which promote the survival of existing neurons while stimulating the growth of new neurons.
2. GDNF family of ligands (GFL) which include four neurotrophic factors:
- glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF),
- neurturin (NRTN),
- artemin (ARTN), and
- persephin (PSPN) which pertain to cell survival, neurite outgrowth, cell differentiation and cell migration.
3. Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
Ciliary Neurotrphic Factor promotes neurite outgrowth in certain neural populations including astrocytes.
The following substances may enhance the function of the various neurotrophic factors:
Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)
Wollen KA. Alzheimer’s disease: the pros and cons of pharmaceutical, nutritional, botanical, and stimulatory therapies, with a discussion of treatment strategies from the perspective of patients and practitioners. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Sep;15(3):223-44
Taglialatela, G., et al. Acetyl-L-carnitine treatment increases nerve growth factor levels and choline acetyltransferase activity in the central nervous system of aged rats. Experimental Gerontology. 29(1):55-66, 1994.
Codonopsis (Chinese Tang Shen Root)
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Wu A, Ying Z, Gomez-Pinilla F. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids normalize BDNF levels, reduce oxidative damage, and counteract learning disability after traumatic brain injury in rats. J Neurotrauma. 2004 Oct;21(10):1457-67.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)
Serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and cortisol to sulfate of dehydroepiandrosterone molar ratio associated with clinical response to L-theanine as augmentation of antipsychotic therapy in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder patients
Polygala tenuifolia (Chinese Senega Root)
Yabe, T., et al. Induction of NGF synthesis in astrocytes by onjisaponins of Polygala tenuifolia, constituents of kampo (Japanese herbal) medicine, Ninjin-yoei-to. Phytomedicine. 10(2-3):106-114, 2003.
Proline-rich polypeptides (colostrinin)
Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)
Rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa, aka Chinese Foxglove)
Rosemary (Carnosic Acid)
Kosaka, K., et al. Carnosic acid, a component of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), promotes synthesis of nerve growth factor in T98G human glioblastoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 26(11):1620-1622, 2003.
Kheirvari, S., et al. High-dose dietary supplementation of vitamin A induces brain-derived neurotrophic factor and nerve growth factor production in mice with simultaneous deficiency of vitamin A and zinc. Nutr Neurosci. 11(5):228-234, 2008.
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