Development of neuronal and glial cells and their maintenance are under control of neurotrophic factors (NTFs). An exogenous administration of NTFs protects extremely sensitive brain tissue from ischemic damage. On the other hand, it is now known that neural stem cells are present in normal adult brain, and have a potential to compensate and recover neural functions that were lost due to ischemic stroke. These stem cells are also under control of NTFs to differentiate into a certain species of neural cells. Thus, the purpose of this review is to summarize the present understanding of the role of NTFs in normal and ischemic brain and the therapeutic potential of NTF protein itself or gene therapy, and then to summarize the role of NTFs in stem cell differentiation and a possible therapeutic potential with the neural stem cells against ischemic brain injury.
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