Cutting edge: clonally restricted production of the neurotrophins brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-3 mRNA by human immune cells and Th1/Th2-polarized expression of their receptors

J Immunol. 1999 Jun 1;162(11):6303-6.


Neurotrophins, such as neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), are potent regulators of neuronal functions. Here we show that human immune cells also produce NT-3 mRNA, secrete BDNF, and express their specific receptors trkB and trkC. The truncated trkB receptor, usually expressed in sensory neurons of the central nervous system, was also constitutively expressed in unstimulated Th cells. Full-length trkB was detectable in stimulated PBMC, B cell lines, and Th1, but not in Th2 and Th0 cell clones. Clonally restricted expression was also observed for trkC, until now not detected on blood cells. The Th1 cytokine IL-2 stimulated production of trkB mRNA but not of trkC, whereas the Th2 cytokine IL-4 enhanced NT-3 but not BDNF mRNA expression. Microbial Ags, which influence the Th1/Th2 balance, could therefore modulate the neurotrophic system and thereby affect neuronal synaptic activity of the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clone Cells
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Nerve Growth Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Neurotrophin 3
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor, Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Receptor, trkC
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / genetics
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Cytokines
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neurotrophin 3
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Receptor, trkC