Neurotrophins are a family of proteins that induce the survival, development and function of neurons. They belong to a class of growth factors, secreted proteins, which are capable of signaling particular cells to survive, differentiate, or grow. Growth factors such as neurotrophins that promote the survival of neurons are known as neurotrophic factors. Neurotrophic factors are secreted by target tissue and act by preventing the associated neuron from initiating programmed cell death - thus allowing the neurons to survive. Neurotrophins also induce differentiation of progenitor cells, to form neurons.