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J Neurosci. 2002 Sep 1;22(17):7453-61.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor triggers transcription-dependent, late phase long-term potentiation in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Locus on Neuroscience, University of Bergen, N-5009 Bergen, Norway.


Acute intrahippocampal infusion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) leads to long-term potentiation (BDNF-LTP) of synaptic transmission at medial perforant path-->granule cell synapses in the rat dentate gyrus. Endogenous BDNF is implicated in the maintenance of high-frequency stimulation-induced LTP (HFS-LTP). However, the relationship between exogenous BDNF-LTP and HFS-LTP is unclear. First, we found that BDNF-LTP, like HFS-LTP, is associated with enhancement in both synaptic strength and granule cell excitability (EPSP-spike coupling). Second, treatment with a competitive NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antagonist blocked HFS-LTP but had no effect on the development or magnitude of BDNF-LTP. Thus, NMDAR activation is not required for the induction or expression of BDNF-LTP. Formation of stable, late phase HFS-LTP requires mRNA synthesis and is coupled to upregulation of the immediate early gene activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc). Local infusion of the transcription inhibitor actinomycin D (ACD) 1 hr before or immediately before BDNF infusion inhibited BDNF-LTP and upregulation of Arc protein expression. ACD applied 2 hr after BDNF infusion had no effect, defining a critical time window of transcription-dependent synaptic strengthening. Finally, the functional role of BDNF-LTP was assessed in occlusion experiments with HFS-LTP. HFS-LTP was induced, and BDNF was infused at time points corresponding to early phase (1 hr) or late phase (4 hr) HFS-LTP. BDNF applied during the early phase led to normal BDNF-LTP. In contrast, BDNF-LTP was completely occluded during the late phase. The results strongly support a role for BDNF in triggering transcription-dependent, late phase LTP in the intact adult brain.

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