Cellular sources of enhanced brain-derived neurotrophic factor production in a mouse model of allergic inflammation

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1999 Oct;21(4):537-46. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.21.4.3670.


The aim of this study was to investigate production and cellular sources of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) production in allergic asthma. For this purpose a mouse model of chronic and severe ovalbumin (OVA)-induced airway inflammation was developed. Allergen-exposed mice developed elevated immunoglobulin E titers; airway inflammation with influx of lymphocytes, monocytes, and eosinophils; and airway hyperresponsiveness. In addition to an influx of inflammatory cells, interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5 production were enhanced, macrophages showed morphologic signs of activation, and airway epithelium was thickened and displayed a goblet-cell hyperplasia with a marked mucus production. BDNF was detected using in situ hybridization and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Constitutive expression of BDNF messenger RNA (mRNA) was observed in the respiratory epithelium of sensitized and nonsensitized mouse lungs. In addition, BDNF mRNA was detected in airway inflammatory infiltrations and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cells of OVA-sensitized and aerosol-challenged mice. Highest BDNF protein levels were detected in BALF after long-term allergen aerosol exposure. Analysis of BDNF production by isolated lymphocyte subsets revealed T but not B cells as a cellular source of BDNF. In addition, activated alveolar macrophages were identified as BDNF-positive cells. These data indicate that in allergic airway inflammation BDNF production is upregulated and immune cells serve as a source of BDNF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / etiology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Allergens
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Ovalbumin