During development, neurons make connections by growing in response to axon guidance cues, in a process known as neurite outgrowth. Recent research has focused on how extracellular gradients affect asymmetric distribution and function of proteins driving neurite outgrowth. Neurotrophins are one family of factors directing axon growth. Neurite outgrowth during nervous system development results in a network of synaptic connections between participating neurons.
Understanding neurite outgrowth can improve therapeutics for nervous system developmental disorders and neurodegenerative disease. Merck’s products for studying neurite outgrowth help determine the mechanisms of axon growth.