The neurotrophins nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, NT-3 (neurotrophin 3) and NT-4 are known for regulating neuron development, function and survival. Beyond this, neurotrophins were found to exert multiple effects on non-neuronal cells such as immune cells, smooth muscle and epithelial cells. In allergic asthma, airway inflammation, airway obstruction, AHR (airway hyperresponsiveness) and airway remodelling are characteristic features, indicating an intensive interaction between neuronal, structural and immune cells in the lung. In allergic asthma patients, elevated neurotrophin levels in the blood and locally in the lung are commonly observed. Additionally, structural cells of the lung and immune cells, present in the lung during airway inflammation, were shown to be capable of neurotrophin production. A functional relationship between neurotrophins and the main features of asthma was revealed, as airway obstruction, airway inflammation, AHR and airway remodelling were all shown to be stimulated by neurotrophins. The aim of the present review is to provide an overview of neurotrophin sources and target cells in the lung, concerning their possible role as mediators between structural cells, immune cells and neurons, connecting the different features of allergic asthma.

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