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J Neurosci. 2004 Dec 15;24(50):11346-55.

Localization of brain-derived neurotrophic factor to distinct terminals of mossy fiber axons implies regulation of both excitation and feedforward inhibition of CA3 pyramidal cells.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Hippocampal dentate granule cells directly excite and indirectly inhibit CA3 pyramidal cells via distinct presynaptic terminal specializations of their mossy fiber axons. This mossy fiber pathway contains the highest concentration of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the CNS, yet whether BDNF is positioned to regulate the excitatory and/or inhibitory pathways is unknown. To localize BDNF, confocal microscopy of green fluorescent protein transgenic mice was combined with BDNF immunohistochemistry. Approximately half of presynaptic granule cell-CA3 pyramidal cell contacts were found to contain BDNF. Moreover, enhanced neuronal activity virtually doubled the percentage of BDNF-immunoreactive terminals contacting CA3 pyramidal cells. To our surprise, BDNF was also found in mossy fiber terminals contacting inhibitory neurons. These studies demonstrate that mossy fiber BDNF is poised to regulate both direct excitatory and indirect feedforward inhibitory inputs to CA3 pyramdal cells and reveal that seizure activity increases the pool of BDNF-expressing granule cell presynaptic terminals contacting CA3 pyramidal cells.

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