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1.  Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor Promotes Differentiation and Maturation of Adult-born Neurons Through GABAergic Transmission 
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated in regulating adult neurogenesis in the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus; however, the mechanism underlying this regulation remains unclear. In this study, we found that Bdnf mRNA localized to distal dendrites of dentate gyrus granule cells isolated from wild-type mice, but not from Bdnfklox/klox mice where the long 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of Bdnf mRNA is truncated. KCl-induced membrane depolarization stimulated release of dendritic BDNF translated from long 3′ UTR Bdnf mRNA in cultured hippocampal neurons, but not from short 3′ UTR Bdnf mRNA. Bdnfklox/klox mice exhibited reduced expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (a GABA synthase), increased proliferation of progenitor cells, and impaired differentiation and maturation of newborn neurons in the SGZ. These deficits in adult neurogenesis were rescued with administration of phenobarbital, an enhancer of GABAA receptor activity. Furthermore, we observed similar neurogenesis deficits in mice where the receptor for BDNF, TrkB, was selectively abolished in parvalbumin-expressing GABAergic interneurons. Thus, our data suggest that locally synthesized BDNF in dendrites of granule cells promotes differentiation and maturation of progenitor cells in the SGZ by enhancing GABA release, at least in part, from parvalbumin-expressing GABAergic interneurons.
PMCID: PMC3519245  PMID: 23055503
2.  Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide Enhances Release of Native Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor from Trigeminal Ganglion Neurons 
Journal of neurochemistry  2006;99(5):1338-1350.
Activity-dependent plasticity in nociceptive pathways has been implicated in pathomechanisms of chronic pain syndromes. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which is expressed by trigeminal nociceptors, has recently been identified as a key player in the mechanism of migraine headaches. Here we show that CGRP is co-expressed with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in a large subset of adult rat trigeminal ganglion neurons in vivo. Using ELISA in situ, we show that CGRP (1–1000 nM) potently enhances BDNF release from cultured trigeminal neurons. The effect of CGRP is dose–dependent and abolished by pretreatment with CGRP receptor antagonist, CGRP(8–37). Intriguingly, CGRP-mediated BDNF release, unlike BDNF release evoked by physiological patterns of electrical stimulation, is independent of extracellular calcium. Depletion of intracellular calcium stores with thapsigargin blocks the CGRP-mediated BDNF release. Using transmission electron microscopy, our study also shows that BDNF-immunoreactivity is present in dense core vesicles of unmyelinated axons and axon terminals in the subnucleus caudalis of the spinal trigeminal nucleus, the primary central target of trigeminal nociceptors. Together, these results reveal a previously unknown role for CGRP in regulating BDNF availability, and point to BDNF as a candidate mediator of trigeminal nociceptive plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2440676  PMID: 17064360
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor; Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide; Migraine; Pain; Synaptic Plasticity; Trigeminal
3.  Paradoxical Role of BDNF: BDNF+/− Retinas Are Protected against Light Damage–Mediated Stress 
Photoreceptors can be prevented from undergoing apoptosis in response to constant light by the application of exogenous neuroprotective agents, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF, however, cannot exert its effect directly on photoreceptors because they do not express receptors for BDNF. It has been proposed that BDNF released from Müller cells provides a feed-forward loop, increasing ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) production in Müller cells, which may enhance photoreceptor survival. The authors hypothesized that retinas with reduced BDNF levels in which the BDNF-mediated release of neuroprotective signals is dampened are more susceptible to light-induced photoreceptor degeneration.
Young adult BDNF+/+ and BDNF+/− littermates (B6.129-BDNFtm1-LT) were analyzed. Retinal neurotrophin and growth factor mRNA levels were determined by quantitative RT-PCR, photoreceptor function was assessed through electroretinography, and survival was documented in morphologic sections and in TUNEL assays. Oxidative stress was assayed by measuring glutathione peroxidase activity.
baseline, BDNF+/− animals had significantly increased levels of glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) mRNA compared with their wild-type littermates. After light damage GDNF, CNTF, and BDNF mRNA levels dropped 14- to 16-fold in the BDNF+/+ mice but remained almost unchanged compared with baseline levels in the BDNF+/− mice. Preservation of neurotrophin levels in BDNF+/− mice correlated with photoreceptor cell survival, preservation of function, and reduced oxidative stress.
Contrary to the hypothesis, reducing BDNF levels resulted in photoreceptor protection against light damage. Survival was paralleled by a reduction in oxidative stress and the preservation of neurotrophin levels, suggesting that chronic reduction of BDNF in the retina provides a level of preconditioning against stress.
PMCID: PMC1964504  PMID: 17525224
4.  Role of TrkB expression in rat adrenal gland during acute immobilization stress 
Journal of Neurochemistry  2012;124(2):224-232.
Expression of tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB), a receptor for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), is markedly elevated in the adrenal medulla during immobilization stress. Catecholamine release was confirmed in vitro by stimulating chromaffin cells with recombinant BDNF. We investigated the role of TrkB and the localization of BDNF in the adrenal gland during immobilization stress for 60 min. Blood catecholamine levels increased after stimulation with TrkB expressed in the adrenal medulla during 60-min stress; however, blood catecholamine levels did not increase in adrenalectomized rats. Furthermore, expression of BDNF mRNA and protein was detected in the adrenal medulla during 60-min stress. Similarly, in rats undergoing sympathetic nerve block with propranolol, BDNF mRNA and protein were detected in the adrenal medulla during 60-min stress. These results suggest that signal transduction of TrkB in the adrenal medulla evokes catecholamine release. In addition, catecholamine release was evoked by both the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and autocrine signaling by BDNF in the adrenal gland. BDNF–TrkB interaction may play a role in a positive feedback loop in the adrenal medulla during immobilization stress.
PMCID: PMC3563005  PMID: 23017014
acute immobilization stress; adrenal medulla; agonist antibody; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; catecholamine; tyrosine receptor kinase B
5.  Amphetamine-induced locomotion and gene expression are altered in BDNF heterozygous mice 
Genes, brain, and behavior  2008;7(8):906-914.
Administration of amphetamine over-stimulates medium spiny neurons by releasing dopamine and glutamate from afferents in the striatum. However, these afferents also release brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that protects striatal medium spiny neurons from over-stimulation. Intriguingly, all three neurochemicals increase opioid gene expression in medium spiny neurons. In contrast, striatal opioid expression is less in naïve BDNF heterozygous (BDNF+/-) versus wildtype mice. This study was designed to determine whether partial genetic depletion of BDNF influences the behavioral and molecular response to an acute amphetamine injection. An acute injection of amphetamine (5 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline was administered to wildtype and BDNF+/- mice. Wildtype and BDNF+/- mice exhibited similar locomotor activity during habituation whereas BDNF+/- mice exhibited more prolonged locomotor activation during the third hour after injection of amphetamine. Three hours after amphetamine injection, there was an increase of preprodynorphin mRNA in the caudate putamen and nucleus accumbens and D3R mRNA levels were increased in the nucleus accumbens of BDNF+/- and wildtype mice. Striatal/cortical trkB and BDNF, and mesencephalic TH mRNA levels were only increased in wildtype mice. These results indicate that BDNF modifies the locomotor responses of mice to acute amphetamine and differentially regulates amphetamine-induced gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2605203  PMID: 18681898
brain-derived neurotrophic factor; amphetamine; psychostimulant; tyrosine hydroxylase; dynorphin; enkephalin; TrkB; dopamine D3 receptor
6.  Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its receptor in the human and the sand rat intervertebral disc 
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was first identified in the intervertebral disc (IVD) when its molecular upregulation was observed in sections of nucleus pulposus cultured under conditions of increased osmolarity. BDNF is now known to be involved in a number of biologic functions, including regulation of differentiation/survival of sensory neurons, regulation of nociceptive function and central pain modulation, and modulation of inflammatory pain hypersensitivity. In addition, more recent investigations show that BDNF can induce the recruitment of endothelial cells and the formation of vascular structures. The objectives of the present study were to use immunocytochemistry to determine the distribution of BDNF and its receptor (BDNF-tropomyosine receptor kinase B) in the human IVD, and to test for gene expression of BDNF and its receptor in cultured human annulus fibrosus cells.
We studied immunohistochemical localization of BDNF and its receptor in the human annulus, quantified the percentage of outer annulus and inner annulus cells and nucleus cells positive for BDNF immunolocalization, and studied the gene expression of BDNF and its receptor using microarray analysis.
The percentage (mean ± standard error of the mean) of cells positive for BDNF localization was significantly greater in the outer annulus (32.3 ± 2.7%, n = 22) compared with either the inner annulus (8.1 ± 1.5%, n = 6) or the nucleus (10.4 ± 2.8%, n = 3) (P < 0.0001). BDNF-receptor immunolocalization showed a pattern similar to that of BDNF, but was not quantitatively assessed. BDNF gene expression levels from cultured annulus cells showed a significant positive correlation with increasing levels of IVD degeneration (P = 0.011).
These findings provide data on the presence of BDNF and its receptor in the human IVD at the translational level, and on the expression of BDNF and its receptor by cultured human annulus cells. Our findings point to the need for further studies to define the role of BDNF in the human IVD and to investigate regulatory events within the disc that control the expression of BDNF and its receptor.
PMCID: PMC2575628  PMID: 18637190
7.  Time-dependent biphasic modulation of human BDNF by antidepressants in neuroblastoma cells 
BMC Neuroscience  2008;9:61.
Recent rodent studies reported that antidepressant treatments affect the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA in a way that is dependent on treatment duration, by selective modulation of different BDNF transcripts. However, no data are available for the human BDNF gene. We studied the effect of different antidepressants on BDNF mRNA expression in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells.
Cultured cells were treated with the antidepressants fluoxetine, reboxetine and desipramine for different time lengths (6, 24, 48 hours). Expression of total BDNF mRNA was analyzed by reverse transcription PCR and levels of different BDNF transcripts were detected by hemi-nested PCR with specific primers.
Short-term treatment (6 hours) with reboxetine or desipramine reduced total BDNF, whereas long-term treatment (48 hours) significantly increased total BDNF mRNA levels. These changes were accounted for by differential regulation of BDNF IV and VIa/b transcripts. Fluoxetine showed no significant effects.
This is the first study showing biphasic changes in the expression of total and specific BDNF transcripts in human cells following antidepressant treatments. These findings suggest that biphasic induction of BDNF by antidepressants could be a feature common to rodents and humans and encourage the use of SH-SY5Y cells as a tool for investigation of drug effects on human genes.
PMCID: PMC2483719  PMID: 18601743
8.  Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Attracts Geniculate Ganglion Neurites during Embryonic Targeting 
Developmental Neuroscience  2010;32(3):184-196.
Geniculate axons are initially guided to discrete epithelial placodes in the lingual and palatal epithelium that subsequently differentiate into taste buds. In vivo approaches show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA is concentrated in these placodes, that BDNF is necessary for targeting taste afferents to these placodes, and that BDNF misexpression disrupts guidance. We used an in vitro approach to determine whether BDNF may act directly on geniculate axons as a trophic factor and as an attractant, and whether there is a critical period for responsiveness to BDNF. We show that BDNF promotes neurite outgrowth from geniculate ganglion explants dissected from embryonic day (E) 15, E18, infant, and adult rats cultured in collagen gels, and that there is a concentration optimum for neurite extension. Gradients of BDNF derived from slow-release beads caused the greatest bias in neurite outgrowth at E15, when axons approach the immature gustatory papillae. Further, neurites advanced faster toward the BDNF bead than away from it, even if the average amount of neurotrophic factor encountered was the same. We also found that neurites that contact BDNF beads did not advance beyond them. At E18, when axons would be penetrating pregustatory epithelium in vivo, BDNF continued to exert a tropic effect on geniculate neurites. However, at postnatal and adult stages, the influence of BDNF was predominantly trophic. Our data support a role for BDNF acting as an attractant for geniculate axons during a critical period that encompasses initial targeting but not at later stages.
PMCID: PMC3214840  PMID: 20639634
Axon; Guidance; Neurotrophin; Epithelium; Taste; Development
9.  Multiple Approaches to Investigate the Transport and Activity-Dependent Release of BDNF and Their Application in Neurogenetic Disorders 
Neural Plasticity  2012;2012:203734.
Studies utilizing genetic and pharmacological manipulations in rodent models and neuronal cultures have revealed myriad roles of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Currently, this knowledge of BDNF function is being translated into improvement strategies for several debilitating neurological disorders in which BDNF abnormalities play a prominent role. Common among the BDNF-related disorders are irregular trafficking and release of mature BDNF (mBDNF) and/or its prodomain predecessor, proBDNF. Thus, investigating the conditions required for proper trafficking and release of BDNF is an essential step toward understanding and potentially improving these neurological disorders. This paper will provide examples of disorders related to BDNF release and serve as a review of the techniques being used to study the trafficking and release of BDNF.
PMCID: PMC3375105  PMID: 22720171
10.  P2X4-receptor mediated synthesis and release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in microglia is dependent on calcium and p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase activation 
Microglia in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord are increasingly recognized as being crucial in the pathogenesis of pain hypersensitivity following injury to a peripheral nerve. It is known that P2X4 purinoceptors (P2X4Rs) cause the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) from microglia, which is necessary for maintaining pain hypersensitivity after nerve injury. However, there is a critical gap in understanding how activation of microglial P2X4Rs leads to the release of BDNF. Here we show that stimulating P2X4Rs with ATP evokes a biphasic release of BDNF from microglia: an early phase occurs within 5 min, whereas a late phase peaks 60 min after ATP-stimulation. Concomitant with the late phase of release is an increased level of BDNF within the microglia. Both phases of BDNF release and the accumulation within the microglia are dependent upon extracellular Ca2+. The late phase of BDNF release and accumulation, but not the early phase of release, are suppressed by inhibiting transcription and translation, indicating that activation of P2X4R causes an initial release of a pre-existing pool of BDNF followed by an increase in de novo synthesis of BDNF. The release of BDNF is abolished by inhibiting SNARE-mediated exocytosis. Furthermore, we find that the P2X4R-evoked release and synthesis of BDNF are dependent upon activation of p38-mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK). Together, our findings provide a unifying mechanism for pain hypersensitivity following peripheral nerve injury through P2X4R-evoked increase in Ca2+ and activation of p38-MAPK leading to the synthesis and exocytotic release of BDNF from microglia.
PMCID: PMC3589565  PMID: 19295157 CAMSID: cams2734
BDNF; Neuropathic pain; Microglia; P2X4-receptor; Mitogen-activated protein kinase; Calcium
11.  Serum Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor Predicts Responses to Escitalopram in Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 
Some studies have found that antidepressants increase serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in patients with major depression and the expression of BDNF mRNA in limbic structures of rats.
This study addressed whether the SSRI escitalopram increases serum BDNF levels in subjects with PTSD and whether BDNF levels are associated with treatment response.
Medically healthy male subjects (N=16) with chronic PTSD completed a 12-week open label trial of flexible dose (5–20mg/day) escitalopram monotherapy. BDNF levels were obtained at baseline, and at weeks 4, 8 and 12.
PTSD symptoms significantly declined over the course of the 12 week escitalopram treatment. Despite a substantial improvement in PTSD symptoms, there was virtually no change in BDNF levels over time. Nevertheless, mean BDNF levels across the trial were strongly correlated with the slope of PTSD symptoms over the 12 weeks (r = 0.58, p= 0.018). Lower mean BDNF was associated with a greater decrease in PTSD symptoms over the course of the trial.
PTSD subjects with low BDNF levels demonstrated the largest treatment response from an agent with putative neurotrophic effects.
PMCID: PMC2939182  PMID: 20643177
BDNF; biomarker; escitalopram; posttraumatic stress disorders; predictor of response
12.  Exogenous gangliosides increase the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor 
Neuropharmacology  2010;60(7-8):1160-1167.
Gangliosides are lipophilic compounds found in cell plasma membranes throughout the brain that play a role in neuronal plasticity and regeneration. Indeed, absence or abnormal accumulation of gangliosides has been shown to lead to neurological disorders. Experimental data have shown that exogenous gangliosides exhibit properties similar to the neurotrophins, a family of neurotrophic factors that are important in the survival and maintenance of neurons and prevention of neurological diseases. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the most abundant of the neurotrophins. This work was done to reveal the neurotrophic mechanism of exogenous gangliosides. In particular, we examined whether gangliosides promote the release of BDNF. Rat hippocampal neurons or human neuroblastoma cells were transduced with a recombinant adenovirus expressing BDNF-flag to facilitate detection of BDNF. Release of BDNF was then determined by Western blot analysis and a two-site immunoassay of culture medium. The depolarizing agent KCl was used as a comparison. In hippocampal neurons, both GM1 ganglioside and KCl evoked within minutes the release of mature BDNF. In human cells, GM1 and other gangliosides released both mature BDNF and pro-BDNF. The effect of gangliosides was structure-dependent. In fact, GT1b preferentially released mature BDNF whereas GM1 released both mature and pro-BDNF. Ceramide and sphingosine did not modify the release of BDNF. This work provides additional experimental evidence that exogenous gangliosides can be used to enhance the neurotrophic factor environment and promote neuronal survival in neurological diseases.
PMCID: PMC3045641  PMID: 20971126
BDNF; pro-BDNF; GM1; GT1b; ceramide; NMDA receptor; recombinant adenovirus
13.  Oroxylin A Induces BDNF Expression on Cortical Neurons through Adenosine A2A Receptor Stimulation: A Possible Role in Neuroprotection 
Biomolecules & Therapeutics  2012;20(1):27-35.
Oroxylin A is a flavone isolated from a medicinal herb reported to be effective in reducing the inflammatory and oxidative stresses. It also modulates the production of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in cortical neurons by the transactivation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB). As a neurotrophin, BDNF plays roles in neuronal development, differentiation, synaptogenesis, and neural protection from the harmful stimuli. Adenosine A2A receptor colocalized with BDNF in brain and the functional interaction between A2A receptor stimulation and BDNF action has been suggested. In this study, we investigated the possibility that oroxylin A modulates BDNF production in cortical neuron through the regulation of A2A receptor system. As ex-pected, CGS21680 (A2A receptor agonist) induced BDNF expression and release, however, an antagonist, ZM241385, prevented oroxylin A-induced increase in BDNF production. Oroxylin A activated the PI3K-Akt-GSK-3β signaling pathway, which is inhibited by ZM241385 and the blockade of the signaling pathway abolished the increase in BDNF production. The physiological roles of oroxylin A-induced BDNF production were demonstrated by the increased neurite extension as well as synapse formation from neurons. Overall, oroxylin A might regulate BDNF production in cortical neuron through A2A receptor stimulation, which promotes cellular survival, synapse formation and neurite extension.
PMCID: PMC3792198  PMID: 24116271
Oroxylin A; BDNF; CREB; Adenosine A2A receptor; CGS21680; ZM241385
14.  The Neuroprotective Role of Acupuncture and Activation of the BDNF Signaling Pathway 
Recent studies have been conducted to examine the neuroprotective effects of acupuncture in many neurological disorders. Although the neuroprotective effects of acupuncture has been linked to changes in signaling pathways, accumulating evidence suggest the participation of endogenous biological mediators, such as the neurotrophin (NT) family of proteins, specifically, the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Accordingly, acupuncture can inhibit neurodegeneration via expression and activation of BDNF. Moreover, recent studies have reported that acupuncture can increase ATP levels at local stimulated points. We have also demonstrated that acupuncture could activate monocytes and increase the expression of BDNF via the stimulation of ATP. The purpose of this article is to review the recent findings and ongoing studies on the neuroprotective roles of acupuncture and therapeutic implications of acupuncture-induced activation of BDNF and its signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3958908  PMID: 24566146
acupuncture; brain derived neurotrophic factor; neuroprotective; cyclophilin A
Neuroscience  2010;167(4):1205-1215.
Nociceptive pathways with first-order neurons located in the trigeminal ganglion (TG) provide sensory innervation to the head, and are responsible for a number of common chronic pain conditions, including migraines, temporomandibular disorders and trigeminal neuralgias. Many of those conditions are associated with inflammation. Yet, the mechanisms of chronic inflammatory pain remain poorly understood. Our previous studies show that the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is expressed by adult rat TG neurons, and released from cultured newborn rat TG neurons by electrical stimulation and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a well-established mediator of trigeminal inflammatory pain. These data suggest that BDNF plays a role in activity-dependent plasticity at first-order trigeminal synapses, including functional changes that take place in trigeminal nociceptive pathways during chronic inflammation. The present study was designed to determine the effects of peripheral inflammation, using tooth pulp inflammation as a model, on regulation of BDNF expression in TG neurons of juvenile rats and mice. Cavities were prepared in right-side maxillary first and second molars of 4-week-old animals, and left open to oral microflora. BDNF expression in right TG was compared with contralateral TG of the same animal, and with right TG of sham-operated controls, 7 and 28 days after cavity preparation. Our ELISA data indicate that exposing the tooth pulp for 28 days, with confirmed inflammation, leads to a significant upregulation of BDNF in the TG ipsilateral to the affected teeth. Double-immunohistochemistry with antibodies against BDNF combined with one of nociceptor markers, CGRP or TRPV1, revealed that BDNF is significantly upregulated in TRPV1-immunoreactive (IR) neurons in both rats and mice, and CGRP-IR neurons in mice, but not rats. Overall, the inflammation-induced upregulation of BDNF is stronger in mice compared to rats. Thus, mouse TG provides a suitable model to study molecular mechanisms of inflammation-dependent regulation of BDNF expression in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2862813  PMID: 20223282
CGRP; ELISA; Mouse; Nociceptor; Rat; TRPV1
16.  Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor from Bone Marrow-Derived Cells Promotes Post-Injury Repair of Peripheral Nerve 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44592.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) stimulates peripheral nerve regeneration. However, the origin of BNDF and its precise effect on nerve repair have not been clarified. In this study, we examined the role of BDNF from bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) in post-injury nerve repair. Control and heterozygote BDNF knockout mice (BDNF+/−) received a left sciatic nerve crush using a cerebral blood clip. Especially, for the evaluation of BDNF from BMDCs, studies with bone marrow transplantation (BMT) were performed before the injury. We evaluated nerve function using a rotarod test, sciatic function index (SFI), and motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) simultaneously with histological nerve analyses by immunohistochemistry before and after the nerve injury until 8 weeks. BDNF production was examined by immunohistochemistry and mRNA analyses. After the nerve crush, the controls showed severe nerve dysfunction evaluated at 1 week. However, nerve function was gradually restored and reached normal levels by 8 weeks. By immunohistochemistry, BDNF expression was very faint before injury, but was dramatically increased after injury at 1 week in the distal segment from the crush site. BDNF expression was mainly co-localized with CD45 in BMDCs, which was further confirmed by the appearance of GFP-positive cells in the BMT study. Variant analysis of BDNF mRNA also confirmed this finding. BDNF+/− mice showed a loss of function with delayed histological recovery and BDNF+/+→BDNF+/− BMT mice showed complete recovery both functionally and histologically. These results suggested that the attenuated recovery of the BDNF+/− mice was rescued by the transplantation of BMCs and that BDNF from BMDCs has an essential role in nerve repair.
PMCID: PMC3446933  PMID: 23028564
17.  Regulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in neurons 
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays critical roles in many aspects of brain functions, including cell survival, differentiation, development, learning and memory. Aberrant BDNF expression has also been implicated in numerous neurological disorders. Thus, significant effort has been made to understand how BDNF transcription as well as translation is regulated. Interestingly, the BDNF gene structure suggests that multiple promoters control its transcription, leading to the existence of distinct mRNA species. Further, the long- and short-tail of the 3’un-translated region may dictate different sub-cellular BDNF mRNA targeting and translational responses following neuronal stimulation. This review aims to summarize the main findings that demonstrate how neuronal activities specifically up-regulate the transcription and translation of unique BDNF transcripts. We also discuss some of the recent reports that emphasize the epigenetic regulation of BDNF transcription.
PMCID: PMC3544221  PMID: 23320132
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; calcium-responsive element; cAMP-responsive element; intracellular signaling; neuroplasticity; transcription and translation
18.  Dysregulation of BDNF-TrkB Signaling in Developing Hippocampal Neurons by Pb2+: Implications for an Environmental Basis of Neurodevelopmental Disorders 
Toxicological Sciences  2012;127(1):277-295.
Dysregulation of synaptic development and function has been implicated in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders and mental disease. A neurotrophin that has an important function in neuronal and synaptic development is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). In this communication, we examined the effects of lead (Pb2+) exposure on BDNF-tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) signaling during the period of synaptogenesis in cultured neurons derived from embryonic rat hippocampi. We show that Pb2+ exposure decreases BDNF gene and protein expression, and it may also alter the transport of BDNF vesicles to sites of release by altering Huntingtin phosphorylation and protein levels. Combined, these effects of Pb2+ resulted in decreased concentrations of extracellular mature BDNF. The effect of Pb2+ on BDNF gene expression was associated with a specific decrease in calcium-sensitive exon IV transcript levels and reduced phosphorylation and protein expression of the transcriptional repressor methyl-CpG–binding protein (MeCP2). TrkB protein levels and autophosphorylation at tyrosine 816 were significantly decreased by Pb2+ exposure with a concomitant increase in p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) levels and altered TrkB-p75NTR colocalization. Finally, phosphorylation of Synapsin I, a presynaptic target of BDNF-TrkB signaling, was significantly decreased by Pb2+ exposure with no effect on total Synapsin I protein levels. This effect of Pb2+ exposure on Synapsin I phosphorylation may help explain the impairment in vesicular release documented by us previously (Neal, A. P., Stansfield, K. H., Worley, P. F., Thompson, R. E., and Guilarte, T. R. (2010). Lead exposure during synaptogenesis alters vesicular proteins and impairs vesicular release: Potential role of N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) dependent BDNF signaling. Toxicol. Sci. 116, 249–263) because it controls vesicle movement from the reserve pool to the readily releasable pool. In summary, the present study demonstrates that Pb2+ exposure during the period of synaptogenesis of hippocampal neurons in culture disrupts multiple synaptic processes regulated by BDNF-TrkB signaling with long-term consequences for synaptic function and neuronal development.
PMCID: PMC3327871  PMID: 22345308
BDNF; TrkB; p75NTR; MeCP2; epigenetics; Huntingtin; Synapsin I; phosphorylation; Pb2+; hippocampus; neuron; synaptogenesis
19.  Degenerate Human Nucleus Pulposus Cells Promote Neurite Outgrowth in Neural Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47735.
Innervation of nociceptive nerve fibres into the normally aneural nucleus pulposus (NP) of the intervertebral disc (IVD) occurs during degeneration resulting in discogenic back pain. The neurotrophins nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are associated with stimulation of axonal outgrowth and nociception by neuronal cells, are both expressed by NP cells, with BDNF levels increasing with disease severity. However the mechanism of interaction between human NP cells and neural cells has yet to be fully elucidated. Therefore the aim of this study was to determine whether non-degenerate or degenerate human NP cells inhibit or stimulate neural outgrowth and whether any outgrowth is mediated by NGF or BDNF. Human NP cells from non-degenerate and degenerate IVD were cultured in alginate beads then co-cultured for 48 hours with human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Co-culture of non-degenerate NP cells with neural cells resulted in both an inhibition of neurite outgrowth and reduction in percentage of neurite expressing cells. Conversely co-culture with degenerate NP cells resulted in an increase in both neurite length and percentage of neurite expressing cells. Addition of anti-NGF to the co-culture with degenerate cells resulted in a decrease in percentage of neurite expressing cells, while addition of anti-BDNF resulted in a decrease in both neurite length and percentage of neurite expressing cells. Our findings show that while non-degenerate NP cells are capable of inhibiting neurite outgrowth from human neural cells, degenerate NP cells stimulate outgrowth. Neurotrophin blocking studies demonstrated that both NGF and BDNF, secreted by degenerate NP cells, may play a role in this stimulation with BDNF potentially playing the predominant role. These findings suggest that NP cells are capable of regulating nerve ingrowth and that neoinnervation occurring during IVD degeneration may be stimulated by the NP cells themselves.
PMCID: PMC3472988  PMID: 23091643
20.  Dopamine D1-like receptor activation induces brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein expression 
Neuroreport  2009;20(6):606-610.
Recent studies showed that dopamine or D1 receptor-selective agonists increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA and protein expression in neuronal cultures, and this action was blocked by SCH23390. Moreover, SKF38393 activated Trk receptors and downstream signaling in striatal neurons. This study examined whether dopamine agonists induce the expression of BDNF protein in rat brain tissue. Acute slice preparations were incubated with dopamine agonists in Hibernate A medium and BDNF protein was measured by a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results showed that dopamine increased BDNF in tissue slices after 24 h of incubation. Furthermore, SKF38393 produced a significant increase in BDNF protein in striatal and hippocampal tissue slices. These findings suggest that the induction of BDNF expression may constitute a downstream response to D1-like dopamine receptor activation.
PMCID: PMC2834182  PMID: 19295451
brain-derived neurotrophic factor; D1-like receptor; dopamine; SKF38393
21.  Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)-Induced Tropomyosin-Related Kinase B (Trk B) Signaling Is a Potential Therapeutic Target for Peritoneal Carcinomatosis Arising from Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96410.
Tropomyosin-related receptor kinase B (TrkB) signaling, stimulated by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) ligand, promotes tumor progression, and is related to the poor prognosis of various malignancies. We sought to examine the clinical relevance of BDNF/TrkB expression in colorectal cancer (CRC) tissues, its prognostic value for CRC patients, and its therapeutic potential in vitro and in vivo. Two hundred and twenty-three CRC patient specimens were used to determine both BDNF and TrkB mRNA levels. The expression of these proteins in their primary and metastatic tumors was investigated by immunohistochemistry. CRC cell lines and recombinant BDNF and K252a (a selective pharmacological pan-Trk inhibitor) were used for in vitro cell viability, migration, invasion, anoikis resistance and in vivo peritoneal metastasis assays. Tissue BDNF mRNA was associated with liver and peritoneal metastasis. Tissue TrkB mRNA was also associated with lymph node metastasis. The co-expression of BDNF and TrkB was associated with liver and peritoneal metastasis. Patients with higher BDNF, TrkB, and co-expression of BDNF and TrkB had a significantly poor prognosis. BDNF increased tumor cell viability, migration, invasion and inhibited anoikis in the TrkB-expressing CRC cell lines. These effects were suppressed by K252a. In mice injected with DLD1 co-expressing BDNF and TrkB, and subsequently treated with K252a, peritoneal metastatic nodules was found to be reduced, as compared with control mice. BDNF/TrkB signaling may thus be a potential target for treating peritoneal carcinomatosis arising from colorectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC4011754  PMID: 24801982
22.  Dissecting the human BDNF locus: Bidirectional transcription, complex splicing, and multiple promoters☆ 
Genomics  2007;90(3):397-406.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the nerve growth factor family of neurotrophins, has central roles in the development, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system. We have elucidated the structure of the human BDNF gene, identified alternative transcripts, and studied their expression in adult human tissues and brain regions. In addition, the transcription initiation sites for human BDNF transcripts were determined and the activities of BDNF promoters were analyzed in transient overexpression assays. Our results show that the human BDNF gene has 11 exons and nine functional promoters that are used tissue and brain-region specifically. Furthermore, noncoding natural antisense RNAs that display complex splicing and expression patterns are transcribed in the BDNF gene locus from the antiBDNF gene (approved gene symbol BDNFOS). We show that BDNF and antiBDNF transcripts form dsRNA duplexes in the brain in vivo, suggesting an important role for antiBDNF in regulating BDNF expression in human.
PMCID: PMC2568880  PMID: 17629449
Neurotrophic factor; Brain; neuron; Alternative splicing; BDNF; Natural antisense transcript; RNA duplex; Lin-7c/Mals-3/veli3
23.  BAC Transgenic Mice Reveal Distal Cis-Regulatory Elements Governing BDNF Gene Expression 
Genesis (New York, N.y. : 2000)  2010;48(4):214-219.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family of neurotrophic factors, has important functions in the peripheral and central nervous system of vertebrates. We have generated bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mice harboring 207 kb of the rat BDNF (rBDNF) locus containing the gene, 13 kb of genomic sequences upstream of BDNF exon I, and 144 kb downstream of protein encoding exon IX, in which protein coding region was replaced with the lacZ reporter gene. This BDNF-BAC drove transgene expression in the brain, heart, and lung, recapitulating endogenous BDNF expression to a larger extent than shorter rat BDNF transgenes employed previously. Moreover, kainic acid induced the expression of the transgenic BDNF mRNA in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus through preferential activation of promoters I and IV, thus recapitulating neuronal activity-dependent transcription of the endogenous BDNF gene. genesis 48:214–219, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMCID: PMC2978326  PMID: 20186743
neurotrophin; transcription; promoter; BAC; transgenic mouse; kainic acid
24.  Knockdown of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in specific brain sites precipitates behaviors associated with depression and reduces neurogenesis 
Molecular Psychiatry  2009;15(1):80-92.
Depression has been associated with reduced expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus. In addition, animal studies suggest an association between reduced hippocampal neurogenesis and depressive-like behavior. These associations were predominantly established based on responses to antidepressant drugs and alterations in BDNF levels and neurogenesis in depressive patients or animal models for depressive behavior. Nevertheless, there is no direct evidence that the actual reduction of the BDNF protein in specific brain sites can induce depressive-like behaviors or affect neurogenesis in vivo. Using BDNF knockdown by RNA interference and lentiviral vectors injected into specific subregions of the hippocampus we show that a reduction in BDNF expression in the dentate gyrus, but not the CA3, reduces neurogenesis and affects behaviors associated with depression. Moreover, we show that BDNF has a critical function in neuronal differentiation, but not proliferation in vivo. Finally, we found that a specific BDNF knockdown in the ventral subiculum induces anhedonic-like behavior. These findings provide substantial support for the neurotrophic hypothesis of depression and specify anatomical and neurochemical targets for potential antidepressant interventions. Moreover, the specific effect of BDNF reduction on neuronal differentiation has broader implications for the study of neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC2834321  PMID: 19621014
brain-derived neurotrophic factor; lentiviral vector; short hairpin RNA; neurogenesis; hippocampus; depression
25.  High abundance of BDNF within glutamatergic presynapses of cultured hippocampal neurons 
In the mammalian brain, the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has emerged as a key factor for synaptic refinement, plasticity and learning. Although BDNF-induced signaling cascades are well known, the spatial aspects of the synaptic BDNF localization remained unclear. Recent data provide strong evidence for an exclusive presynaptic location and anterograde secretion of endogenous BDNF at synapses of the hippocampal circuit. In contrast, various studies using BDNF overexpression in cultured hippocampal neurons support the idea that postsynaptic elements and other dendritic structures are the preferential sites of BDNF localization and release. In this study we used rigorously tested anti-BDNF antibodies and achieved a dense labeling of endogenous BDNF close to synapses. Confocal microscopy showed natural BDNF close to many, but not all glutamatergic synapses, while neither GABAergic synapses nor postsynaptic structures carried a typical synaptic BDNF label. To visualize the BDNF distribution within the fine structure of synapses, we implemented super resolution fluorescence imaging by direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM). Two-color dSTORM images of neurites were acquired with a spatial resolution of ~20 nm. At this resolution, the synaptic scaffold proteins Bassoon and Homer exhibit hallmarks of mature synapses and form juxtaposed bars, separated by a synaptic cleft. BDNF imaging signals form granule-like clusters with a mean size of ~60 nm and are preferentially found within the fine structure of the glutamatergic presynapse. Individual glutamatergic presynapses carried up to 90% of the synaptic BDNF immunoreactivity, and only a minor fraction of BDNF molecules was found close to the postsynaptic bars. Our data proof that hippocampal neurons are able to enrich and store high amounts of BDNF in small granules within the mature glutamatergic presynapse, at a principle site of synaptic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3990111  PMID: 24782711
BDNF; synaptic localization; presynapse; hippocampal neurons; synapse structure

Results 1-25 (858509)