Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Neurosci. 2004 Jan;7(1):48-55. Epub 2003 Dec 14.

BDNF is necessary and sufficient for spinal respiratory plasticity following intermittent hypoxia.

Author information

Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Intermittent hypoxia causes a form of serotonin-dependent synaptic plasticity in the spinal cord known as phrenic long-term facilitation (pLTF). Here we show that increased synthesis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the spinal cord is necessary and sufficient for pLTF in adult rats. We found that intermittent hypoxia elicited serotonin-dependent increases in BDNF synthesis in ventral spinal segments containing the phrenic nucleus, and the magnitude of these BDNF increases correlated with pLTF magnitude. We used RNA interference (RNAi) to interfere with BDNF expression, and tyrosine kinase receptor inhibition to block BDNF signaling. These disruptions blocked pLTF, whereas intrathecal injection of BDNF elicited an effect similar to pLTF. Our findings demonstrate new roles and regulatory mechanisms for BDNF in the spinal cord and suggest new therapeutic strategies for treating breathing disorders such as respiratory insufficiency after spinal injury. These experiments also illustrate the potential use of RNAi to investigate functional consequences of gene expression in the mammalian nervous system in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center