Depression and schizophrenia are major psychiatric disorders. Recently it has been documented that these diseases are characterized by deficits and / or loss of neurons in specific brain regions. Nerve growth factor and brainderived neurotrophic factor are endogenous biological mediators involved in neuronal survival and plasticity of dopaminergic, cholinergic, and serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system. Structural, biochemical, and molecular findings led to the hypothesis that these molecules play a role in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders and suggested that alterations in expression of neurotrophic factors could be responsible for neural maldevelopment and disturbed neural plasticity both in young, adult and aged subjects. Studies aimed at understanding the mechanisms regulating these events might be an important line of research for analyzing the etiopathogenesis of psychiatric disorders and eventually identifying new methods for diagnosis and new therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, schizophrenia, depression, serotonergic neurons, neurotrophic factors, neural maldevelopment, neural plasticity, psychiatric disorders