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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2002 Feb;61(2):142-53.

Effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) on compression-induced spinal cord injury: BDNF attenuates down-regulation of superoxide dismutase expression and promotes up-regulation of myelin basic protein expression.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Japan.


Neurotrophins enhance the survival of cells in the nervous system under both physiological and pathological conditions, such as those caused by disease or trauma. We recently demonstrated that expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was up-regulated in neurons and glia after compression-induced spinal cord injury (SCI). We show here the effects of BDNF on the oligodendrocyte survival and functional recovery after SCI. The effects of intrathecally administered BDNF on both Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD) and myelin basic protein (MBP) expression were examined using rats that had received compression-induced spinal cord injury. CuZnSOD expression in the spinal cord was down-regulated within 24 h of compression-induced injury and then recovered. Continuous infusion of BDNF inhibited the acute down-regulation of CuZnSOD expression. In situ hybridization showed that CuZnSOD was expressed in both neurons and glia. Although MBP expression was greatly reduced after injury, BDNF administration promoted the recovery of MBP expression nearly to a control level after 2 wk. Furthermore, BDNF administration also prompted behavioral recovery. These results suggest BDNF's usefulness in human clinical applications. The attenuation of CuZnSOD down-regulation may be related to a protective effect of BDNF and the promotion of MBP up-regulation may be related to a long-lasting restorative effect.

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