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J Neurochem. 2004 Nov;91(3):704-15.

Distribution and localization of pro-brain-derived neurotrophic factor-like immunoreactivity in the peripheral and central nervous system of the adult rat.

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Department of Human Physiology, Flinders University, Adelaide 5001, Australia.


The precursors for neurotrophins are proteolytically cleaved to form biologically active mature molecules which activate their receptors p75NTR and trks. A recent study showed that the precursor for nerve growth factor (NGF) can bind to p75NTR with a high affinity and induces apoptosis of neurons in vitro. Mutation in Val66Met of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) results in reduction in hippocampal function in learning and in the dysfunction of intracellular BDNF sorting and secretion. To examine the functions of pro-neurotrophins in vivo, it is essential to know where they are expressed in the nervous system. In the present study, we have raised and characterized rabbit polyclonal antibodies against a peptide coding for the precursor region of the BDNF gene. The antibody specifically recognizes the precursor for BDNF by western blot. With the affinity purified precursor antibody, we have mapped the distribution and localization of the precursor for BDNF. The results showed that, like mature BDNF, pro-BDNF is localized to nerve terminals in the superficial layers of dorsal horn, trigeminal nuclei, nuclei tractus solitarius, amygdaloid complex, hippocampus, hypothalamus and some peripheral tissues. These results suggest that pro-BDNF, like mature BDNF, is anterogradely transported to nerve terminals and may have important functions in synaptic transmission in the spinal cord and brain.

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