Nerve growth factor (NGF)
Tropomyosin-related kinase (Trk) receptors
Neurotrophins and their receptors act as important proliferative and pro-survival factors in a variety of cell types. Neurotrophins are produced by multiple cell types in both pro- and mature forms, and can act in an autocrine or paracrine fashion. The p75(NTR) and Trk receptors can elicit signalling in response to the presence or absence of their corresponding neurotrophin ligands. This signalling, along with neurotrophin and receptor expression, varies between different cell types. Neurotrophins and their receptors have been shown to be expressed by and elicit signalling in B lymphocytes. In general, most neurotrophins are expressed by activated B-cells and memory B-cells. Likewise, the TrkB(95) receptor is seen on activated B-cells, while TrkA and p75(NTR) are expressed by both resting and active B-cells as well as memory B-cells. Nerve growth factor stimulates B-cell proliferation, memory B-cell survival, antibody production and CD40 expression. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is involved in B-cell maturation in the bone marrow through TrkB(95). Overall neurotrophins and their receptors have been shown to be involved in B-cell proliferation, development, differentiation, antibody secretion and survival. As well as expression and activity in healthy B-cells, the neurotrophins and their receptors can contribute to B-cell malignancies including acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, Burkitt's lymphoma and multiple myeloma. They are involved in B-cell malignancy survival and potentially in drug resistance.