Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neurotrophin that promotes neural recovery and plasticity after experimental brain injury, supporting neuronal growth, differentiation, and survival of brain cells. Only a few studies reported NGF administration in pediatric patients with impaired brain functions after traumatic injuries, ischemic or infectious diseases, such as meningitis. We described the beneficial therapeutic effects of human-recombinant nerve growth factor (hr-NGF) treatment in an infant with persistent unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS), due to late-onset group B Streptococcus meningitis. The infant received five monthly cycles of intranasal hr-NGF (0.1 mg/kg, 3 times daily for 7 consecutive days) through a mucosal atomizer device (MAD). NGF administration improved functional [positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), single-photon emission/computed tomography (SPECT/CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)] assessments, electrophysiological [Electroencephalogram (EEG)] studies, as well as main cognitive processes and clinical and neurological functions. After hr-NGF treatment, significant improvements in facial mimicry, attention, motor reactions, oral motility, and feeding capacity were observed. She also recovered some hypothalamic functions and her cough reflex was restored. No side effects were reported during and after the treatment. For the first time ever, hr-NGF has been successfully utilized in an infant with UWS and severe neurologic outcome due to a bacterial meningitis. Although further studies are needed for better understanding the neuroprotective role of this neurotrophin, intranasal hr-NGF administration appears to be a promising and save rescuing strategy treatment in infants with severe neurological impairment after brain damage.
- Brain injury
- Group B Streptococcus
- Human-recombinant nerve growth factor
- Intranasal administration