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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2012 Jan 15;180(1):25-33. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2011.10.004. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and TrkB receptor in the sudden infant death syndrome brainstem.

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Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; Bosch Institute, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


This study compared the expression of BDNF (proBDNF and rhBDNF forms) and its receptor TrkB, in the medulla of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) infants and infants who died from known causes (non-SIDS). This study also evaluated these markers in association with SIDS clinical risk factors including, sleep position, cigarette smoke exposure and gender. Brainstem tissue was immunohistochemically stained and quantitative analyses were made for eight nuclei of the caudal and rostral medulla. Compared to non-SIDS, SIDS infants had lower rhBDNF in the caudal nucleus of the solitary tract and higher TrkB in the caudal dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus. Within the SIDS cohort, prone sleep position was associated with lower rhBDNF in the caudal arcuate nucleus, and cigarette smoke exposure was associated with lower rhBDNF and TrkB in the inferior olivary nucleus. Abnormal expression of BDNF and TrkB suggests that neuroprotective functions of the BDNF/TrkB system may be reduced in respiratory-related nuclei of SIDS infants.

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