International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Jun 2021)

Peptides Derived from Growth Factors to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Suzanne Gascon,
  • Jessica Jann,
  • Chloé Langlois-Blais,
  • Mélanie Plourde,
  • Christine Lavoie,
  • Nathalie Faucheux

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 6071
p. 6071


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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive neuron losses in memory-related brain structures. The classical features of AD are a dysregulation of the cholinergic system, the accumulation of amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Unfortunately, current treatments are unable to cure or even delay the progression of the disease. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies have emerged, such as the exogenous administration of neurotrophic factors (e.g., NGF and BDNF) that are deficient or dysregulated in AD. However, their low capacity to cross the blood–brain barrier and their exorbitant cost currently limit their use. To overcome these limitations, short peptides mimicking the binding receptor sites of these growth factors have been developed. Such peptides can target selective signaling pathways involved in neuron survival, differentiation, and/or maintenance. This review focuses on growth factors and their derived peptides as potential treatment for AD. It describes (1) the physiological functions of growth factors in the brain, their neuronal signaling pathways, and alteration in AD; (2) the strategies to develop peptides derived from growth factor and their capacity to mimic the role of native proteins; and (3) new advancements and potential in using these molecules as therapeutic treatments for AD, as well as their limitations.