• Nerve Growth Factors;
  • Neurotrophins;
  • BDNF;
  • GDF-5;
  • Neurogenic Impotence;
  • Animal Model;
  • Erectile Dysfunction


Introduction.  Surgical therapies for prostate cancer and other pelvic malignancies often result in neuronal damage and debilitating loss of sexual function due to cavernous nerve (CN) trauma. Advances in the neurobiology of growth factors have heightened clinical interest in the development of protective and regenerative neuromodulatory strategies targeting CN recovery following injury.

Aim.  The aim of this review was to offer an examination of current and future nerve growth factor (NGF) modulation of the CN response to injury with a focus on brain-derived nerve growth factor (BDNF), growth differentiation factor-5 (GDF-5), and neurturin (NTN).

Methods.  Information for this presentation was derived from a current literature search using the National Library of Medicine PubMed Services producing publications relevant to this topic. Search terms included neuroprotection, nerve regeneration, NGFs, neurotrophic factors, BDNF, GDF-5, NTN, and CNs.

Main Outcome Measures.  Basic science studies satisfying the search inclusion criteria were reviewed.

Results.  In this session, BDNF, atypical growth factors GDF-5 and NTN, and their potential influence upon CN recovery after injury are reviewed, as are the molecular pathways by which their influence is exerted.

Conclusions.  Compromised CN function is a significant cause of erectile dysfunction development following prostatectomy and serves as the primary target for potential neuroprotective or regenerative strategies utilizing NGFs such as BDNF, GDF-5, and NTN, and/or targeted novel therapeutics modulating signaling pathways. Bella AJ, Lin G, Lin C-S, Hickling DR, Morash C, and Lue TF. Nerve growth factor modulation of the cavernous nerve response to injury. J Sex Med 2009;6(suppl 3):347–352.