Neurotrophic growth factors in the primary olfactory pathway.
The number of identified growth factors continues to increase rapidly with many being implicated in the development of the nervous system, although for most of them the autocrine and paracrine pathways of cellular regulation still remain to be elucidated. The primary olfactory pathway, consisting of the olfactory epithelium and olfactory bulb, is presented here as a very useful model for the analysis of growth factor function. Review of the available literature suggests that a large proportion of neuroactive growth factors and their receptors are present in the olfactory epithelium or olfactory bulb. Furthermore, the primary olfactory pathway is one of the most plastic in the nervous system with neurogenesis continuing to contribute new sensory neurones in the olfactory epithelium and new interneurones in the olfactory bulb throughout adult life. The rich diversity of growth factors and their receptors in the olfactory system indicates that it will be useful in elucidating how these molecules regulate the formation of the nervous system. The olfactory epithelium in particular is proving useful as a model for the actions of growth factors in directing the neuronal lineage from stem cell to mature neurone.
Progress in Neurobiology