Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a member of the neurotrophin family, which is important for the growth, differentiation, and survival of neurons during development. We have performed a detailed mapping of BDNF mRNA in the neonatal rat brain using a quantitative in situ hybridization technique. At postnatal day (PND) 4, hypothalamic structures showed only modest expression of BDNF mRNA, with the exception of the ventromedial nucleus (VMN), where expression was higher than that detected in the hippocampus. Abundant BDNF mRNA was also found in the bed nucleus of the anterior commissure, retrosplenial granular cortex, and the posteroventral part of the medial amygdaloid nucleus. Messenger RNAs encoding other neurotrophins, including nerve growth factor (NGF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and the BDNF receptor trkB, were not selectively localized in neonatal VMN. During subsequent developmental stages, BDNF mRNA expression in the VMN changed dynamically, peaking at PND 4 and falling to minimal levels in the adult brain. In contrast, the low levels of BDNF mRNA observed in the CA3 region of the hippocampus increased to adult levels following PND 10. As the VMN undergoes sexual differentiation, we compared BDNF, NGF, NT-3, and trkB mRNA expression in the VMN in males and females at embryonic day 20 and PND 4, but found no differences between them. These results suggest that localized and high level expression of BDNF mRNA in the neonatal VMN plays an important role in its neural organization and functional development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience