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Roles of neurotrophins in skeletal tissue formation and healing

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Journal of Cellular Physiology

Published online on


Neurotrophins and their receptors are key molecules that are known to be critical in regulating nervous system development and maintenance and have been recognized to be also involved in regulating tissue formation and healing in skeletal tissues. Studies have shown that neurotrophins and their receptors are widely expressed in skeletal tissues, implicated in chondrogenesis, osteoblastogenesis, and osteoclastogenesis, and are also involved in regulating tissue formation and healing events in skeletal tissue. Increased mRNA expression for neurotrophins NGF, BDNF, NT‐3, and NT‐4, and their Trk receptors has been observed in injured bone tissues, and NT‐3 and its receptor, TrkC, have been identified to have the highest induction at the injury site in a drill‐hole injury repair model in both bone and the growth plate. In addition, NT‐3 has also recently been shown to be both an osteogenic and angiogenic factor, and this neurotrophin can also enhance expression of the key osteogenic factor, BMP‐2, as well as the major angiogenic factor, VEGF, to promote bone formation, vascularization, and healing of the injury site. Further studies, however, are needed to investigate if different neurotrophins have differential roles in skeletal repair, and if NT‐3 can be a potential target of intervention for promoting bone fracture healing. Increasing evidence now suggests that neurotrophins also have important roles in bone. Among the neurotrophins and receptors, the NT‐3/TrkC signaling (induced far more prominently compared to other NTs and other Trk receptors) may potentially play a prominent role in the bone healing.