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Exp Brain Res. 2009 Dec;199(3-4):203-34. doi: 10.1007/s00221-009-1994-z. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

BDNF signaling in the formation, maturation and plasticity of glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses.

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Institute of Neuro- und Sensory Physiology, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany.


In the past 15 years numerous reports provided strong evidence that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is one of the most important modulators of glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses. Remarkable progress regarding localization, kinetics, and molecular mechanisms of BDNF secretion has been achieved, and a large number of studies provided evidence that continuous extracellular supply of BDNF is important for the proper formation and functional maturation of glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses. BDNF can play a permissive role in shaping synaptic networks, making them more susceptible for the occurrence of plastic changes. In addition, BDNF appears to be also an instructive factor for activity-dependent long-term synaptic plasticity. BDNF release just in response to synaptic stimulation might be a molecular trigger to convert high-frequency synaptic activity into long-term synaptic memories. This review attempts to summarize the current knowledge in synaptic secretion and synaptic action of BDNF, including both permissive and instructive effects of BDNF in synaptic plasticity.

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