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EMBO J. 2001 Nov 1;20(21):5887-97.

Synaptic secretion of BDNF after high-frequency stimulation of glutamatergic synapses.

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Department of Molecular Neurobiochemistry, Ruhr University Bochum, NC7-132, D-44780 Bochum, Germany.


The protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been postulated to be a retrograde or paracrine synaptic messenger in long-term potentiation and other forms of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. Although crucial for this concept, direct evidence for the activity-dependent synaptic release of BDNF is lacking. Here we investigate secretion of BDNF labelled with green fluorescent protein (BDNF-GFP) by monitoring the changes in fluorescence intensity of dendritic BDNF-GFP vesicles at glutamatergic synaptic junctions of living hippocampal neurons. We show that high-frequency activation of glutamatergic synapses triggers the release of BDNF-GFP from synaptically localized secretory granules. This release depends on activation of postsynaptic ionotropic glutamate receptors and on postsynaptic Ca(2+) influx. Release of BDNF-GFP is also observed from extrasynaptic dendritic vesicle clusters, suggesting that a possible spatial restriction of BDNF release to specific synaptic sites can only occur if the postsynaptic depolarization remains local. These results support the concept of BDNF being a synaptic messenger of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity, which is released from postsynaptic neurons.

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