Revisiting the Role of Neurotrophic Factors in Inflammation

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20 Citations (Scopus)


The neurotrophic factors are well known for their implication in the growth and the survival of the central, sensory, enteric and parasympathetic nervous systems. Due to these properties, neurturin (NRTN) and Glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), which belong to the GDNF family ligands (GFLs), have been assessed in clinical trials as a treatment for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease. In addition, studies in favor of a functional role for GFLs outside the nervous system are accumulating. Thus, GFLs are present in several peripheral tissues, including digestive, respiratory, hematopoietic and urogenital systems, heart, blood, muscles and skin. More precisely, recent data have highlighted that different types of immune and epithelial cells (macrophages, T cells, such as, for example, mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, innate lymphoid cells (ILC) 3, dendritic cells, mast cells, monocytes, bronchial epithelial cells, keratinocytes) have the capacity to release GFLs and express their receptors, leading to the participation in the repair of epithelial barrier damage after inflammation. Some of these mechanisms pass on to ILCs to produce cytokines (such as IL-22) that can impact gut microbiota. In addition, there are indications that NRTN could be used in the treatment of inflammatory airway diseases and it prevents the development of hyperglycemia in the diabetic rat model. On the other hand, it is suspected that the dysregulation of GFLs produces oncogenic effects. This review proposes the discussion of the biological understanding and the potential new opportunities of the GFLs, in the perspective of developing new treatments within a broad range of human diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number296
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020


  • GDNF family ligands (GFLs)
  • epithelial-neuronal signaling
  • immune cells
  • inflammation


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