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Int J Dev Neurosci. 1999 Jul;17(4):285-94.

Distribution of BDNF, NT-3 and NT-4 in the developing auditory brainstem.

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  • 1Unité INSERM 384, Faculté de Medecine, Clermont-Ferrand, France.


This study describes the developmental expression of three neurotrophins, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin 3 (NT-3) and neurotrophin (NT-4) in the rat auditory brain-stem using immunohistochemistry. At postnatal day 0 (PND 0), neurotrophins expression was virtually absent from all auditory nuclei in the brainstem, even though some positive neurons were observed in the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus at this age. However, BDNF, NT-3 and NT-4 positive neurons were observed in most brainstem auditory nuclei by PND 6. At the following stages, there was a general increase in the intensity of the neurotrophins immunoreactivity and BDNF labeling was particularly prominent in most cochlear nucleus neurons. A differential pattern of staining emerged in cochlear nucleus subdivisions, with more intense staining present in the ventral part. The superior olivary complex nuclei followed a similar pattern of BDNF staining compared to the cochlear nucleus. In the adult, BDNF heavily labeled most neurons of the superior olivary nuclei and moderately labeled neurons of the inferior colliculus (IC). NT-3 and NT-4 showed a similar pattern of staining in most auditory brainstem nuclei. The first staining was observed by PND 6 in some neuronal cell bodies. NT-3 and NT-4 immunoreactivity increased in the following stages and in the adult moderate labelings were observed in most neurons of the cochlear nucleus, the superior olivary nuclei and the IC. These results show that neurotrophins are expressed 1 week before the onset of hearing and the increase of their expressions correlate with the appearance of sound-evoked activity in the system. The temporal distribution of neurotrophins does not correlate with neuronal birth, axonal outgrowth or the formation of connection in the auditory structures, suggesting a role primarily in the maintenance and/ or modulation of postnatal and adult functions.

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