Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Protein Kinase C: An Attractive Target for Cancer Therapy
Previous Article in Journal
Diagnostic Management of Pancreatic Cancer
Previous Article in Special Issue
Parathyroid Hormone-Related Protein (PTHrP): A Key Regulator of Life/Death Decisions by Tumor Cells with Potential Clinical Applications
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview

Nerve Growth Factor in Cancer Cell Death and Survival

Apoptosis Research Centre, School of Natural Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cancers 2011, 3(1), 510-530;
Received: 7 December 2010 / Revised: 24 January 2011 / Accepted: 25 January 2011 / Published: 1 February 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell Death and Cancer)
PDF [444 KB, uploaded 1 February 2011]


One of the major challenges for cancer therapeutics is the resistance of many tumor cells to induction of cell death due to pro-survival signaling in the cancer cells. Here we review the growing literature which shows that neurotrophins contribute to pro-survival signaling in many different types of cancer. In particular, nerve growth factor, the archetypal neurotrophin, has been shown to play a role in tumorigenesis over the past decade. Nerve growth factor mediates its effects through its two cognate receptors, TrkA, a receptor tyrosine kinase and p75NTR, a member of the death receptor superfamily. Depending on the tumor origin, pro-survival signaling can be mediated by TrkA receptors or by p75NTR. For example, in breast cancer the aberrant expression of nerve growth factor stimulates proliferative signaling through TrkA and pro-survival signaling through p75NTR. This latter signaling through p75NTR promotes increased resistance to the induction of cell death by chemotherapeutic treatments. In contrast, in prostate cells the p75NTR mediates cell death and prevents metastasis. In prostate cancer, expression of this receptor is lost, which contributes to tumor progression by allowing cells to survive, proliferate and metastasize. This review focuses on our current knowledge of neurotrophin signaling in cancer, with a particular emphasis on nerve growth factor regulation of cell death and survival in cancer. View Full-Text
Keywords: apoptosis; breast cancer; nerve growth factor (NGF); p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR); prostate cancer; TrkA apoptosis; breast cancer; nerve growth factor (NGF); p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR); prostate cancer; TrkA

Graphical abstract

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Molloy, N.H.; Read, D.E.; Gorman, A.M. Nerve Growth Factor in Cancer Cell Death and Survival. Cancers 2011, 3, 510-530.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Cancers EISSN 2072-6694 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top