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Neuroscience. 2000;97(2):303-10.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulates dendritic morphology of cerebellar basket and stellate cells: an in vitro study.

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Anatomisches Institut, Anatomie und Zellbiologie, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universit├Ąt, Nussallee 10, D-53115, Bonn, Germany.


The dendrites of cerebellar basket/stellate cells show a highly stereotyped orientation relative to granule cell axons (parallel fibers) and Purkinje cell dendrites. This specific morphology is acquired during the early postnatal phase of cerebellar development, when basket/stellate cells become synaptically integrated with Purkinje neurons and granule cells. In the present study, we used primary cerebellar cultures to test how the spatial arrangement of granule cell axons affects basket/stellate cell dendritic morphology. In addition, we sought to determine whether active signals as might be provided by granule cells, i.e. synaptic input and the neurotrophin, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, affect basket/stellate cell development. Our results confirm the critical role of parallel fiber orientation for basket/stellate dendritic morphogenesis. Moreover, we found that both electrical activity and brain-derived neurotrophic factor increased basket and stellate cell dendritic arborization. Together with previously published findings, our data led to the conclusion that both structural cues and active interneuronal signaling collaborate to bring about the precise morphogenesis of cerebellar basket/stellate cells. The distinct responses of various cerebellar phenotypes towards the morphogenetic effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor suggest that this neurotrophin, within the developing cerebellum, enhances synaptic connectivity by concerting the formation of appropriate pre- and postsynaptic structures.

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