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Neuroscience. 2006 Sep 29;142(1):49-58. Epub 2006 Jul 14.

Examination of behavioral deficits triggered by targeting Bdnf in fetal or postnatal brains of mice.

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Department of Neuroscience, Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Human and animal studies have implicated brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the etiology of psychiatric disorders. It is expressed in limbic regions of the brain associated with the regulation of emotionality during fetal development and in the adult animal. To further our understanding of the role of BDNF in the modulation of mood and to distinguish its prenatal and postnatal functions, we investigated and contrasted behavioral changes elicited by its depletion from fetal or postnatal brains of mice. Two corresponding lines of BDNF conditional knockout mice were subjected to a battery of behavioral tests assessing locomotor, depressive, aggressive and anxiety-related behaviors. We found that both lines of mutants were dramatically hyperactive during the light and dark cycles and hyperaggressive. They also exhibited a depression-like phenotype in the tail suspension test but not in the forced swim test. Interestingly, depletion of BDNF from the fetal brain had more pronounced effects on aggressive and depressive-like behaviors and led to deficits in 5-HT(2A) receptor content in the medial frontal cortex, highlighting the importance of this neurotrophin during development. We conclude that expression of BDNF both pre- and postnatally is essential for normal modulation of behavior by neural circuits in the adult animal.

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