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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease Drug Discovery

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Small molecule activators of the Trk receptors for neuroprotection

Nicholas JG Webster12* and Michael C Pirrung3

Author affiliations

1 Veterans Medical Research Foundation and VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, California 92161, USA

2 Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA

3 Department of Chemistry, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9(Suppl 2):S1  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-9-S2-S1

Published: 3 December 2008


The neurotophin signaling network is critical to the development and survival of many neuronal populations. Especially sensitive to imbalances in the neurotrophin system, cholinergic neurons in the basal forebrain are progressively lost in Alzheimer's disease. Therapeutic use of neurotrophins to prevent this loss is hampered, however, by a number of pharmacological challenges. These include a lack of transport across the blood-brain barrier, rapid degradation in the circulation, and difficulty in production. In this review we discuss the evidence supporting the neurotrophin system's role in preventing neurodegeneration and survey some of the pharmacological strategies being pursued to develop effective therapeutics targeting neurotrophin function.