Neurotrophins (NTs), particularly Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain-Derived
Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), have attracted increasing attention in the context of visceral function
for some years. Here, we examined the current literature and presented a thorough review of the
After initial studies linking of NGF to cystitis, it is now well-established that this neurotrophin (NT)
is a key modulator of bladder pathologies, including Bladder Pain Syndrome/Interstitial Cystitis
(BPS/IC) and Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CP/CPPS. NGF is upregulated in
bladder tissue and its blockade results in major improvements on urodynamic parameters and pain.
Further studies expanded showed that NGF is also an intervenient in other visceral dysfunctions
such as endometriosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
More recently, BDNF was also shown to play an important role in the same visceral dysfunctions,
suggesting that both NTs are determinant factors in visceral pathophysiological mechanisms. Manipulation
of NGF and BDNF improves visceral function and reduce pain, suggesting that clinical
modulation of these NTs may be important; however, much is still to be investigated before this
step is taken.
Another active area of research is centered on urinary NGF and BDNF. Several studies show that
both NTs can be found in the urine of patients with visceral dysfunction in much higher concentration
than in healthy individuals, suggesting that they could be used as potential biomarkers. However,
there are still technical difficulties to be overcome, including the lack of a large multicentre
placebo-controlled studies to prove the relevance of urinary NTs as clinical biomarkers.