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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Oct 15; 89(20): 9915–9919.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin 3 mRNAs in the peripheral target fields of developing inner ear ganglia.


In situ hybridization was used to study the site and timing of the expression of nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin 3 (NT-3), and neurotrophin 5 (NT-5) mRNAs in the developing inner ear of the rat. In the sensory epithelia, the levels of NGF and NT-5 mRNAs were below the detection limit. NT-3 and BDNF mRNAs were expressed in the otic vesicle in overlapping but also in distinct regions. Later in development, NT-3 transcripts were localized to the differentiating sensory and supporting cells of the auditory organ and vestibular maculae. In these sensory epithelia, the intensity of NT-3 mRNA expression decreased in parallel with maturation. The expression of BDNF mRNA was restricted to the sensory cells of both the auditory and vestibular organs, including ampullary cristae. In bioassays, BDNF and NT-3, but not NGF, at physiological concentrations induced neurite outgrowth from the statoacoustic ganglion explants. These results demonstrate that NT-3 and BDNF, rather than NGF and NT-5, are the primary neurotrophins present in the target fields of the cochlear and vestibular neurons. Expression of NT-3 and BDNF mRNAs in the otic vesicle before and during the ingrowth of neurites from the statoacoustic ganglion suggests that NT-3 or BDNF or both may serve as chemoattractants for the early nerve fibers. The results also suggest that these neurotrophins have a role in later development of the cochlear and vestibular neurons.

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