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J Comp Neurol. 1995 Oct 2;360(4):698-704.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA is expressed in the developing taste bud-bearing tongue papillae of rat.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) are expressed in many areas of the nervous system and its target tissues. Using in situ hybridization we have investigated the possible presence of NGF mRNA and BDNF mRNA in the developing fungiform and circumvallate papillae of the rat tongue. BDNF mRNA is present in the epithelium of the developing fungiform papillae in E15, E16, and E17 rat embryos with peak concentration at E16. It starts to diminish after E17 and is almost absent at E21. There is a specific temporospatial change in the expression of BDNF mRNA in developing circumvallate papillae. It is expressed in the epithelium of the superior and posterior surfaces of the papillae at E15, E16, and E17. Already at E17 the BDNF mRNA labeling has started to decrease in the superior epithelium. At E19 and E21, BDNF mRNA is exclusively present in the epithelium of the inner and outer walls of the trench, surrounding the papilla at the posterior and lateral surfaces where the taste buds are located later in life. BDNF mRNA was also detected in the developing palatal taste buds. NGF mRNA was below detection level in the developing papillae. The highly localized expression of BDNF mRNA in areas where taste buds are to be formed suggests that BDNF may be one crucial factor in the formation of the epithelial innervation prior to taste bud formation. It might also participate in the formation and/or maintenance of the papillary and/or taste bud innervation apparatus. We conclude that the neurotrophin BDNF is expressed in early development of taste bud-bearing papillae in the rat tongue in a temporally and spatially controlled manner, presumably to act as a target-derived chemoattractant for the early nerve fibers.

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