Postsynaptic target specificity of neurotrophin-induced presynaptic potentiation

Neuron. 2000 Jan;25(1):151-63. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80879-x.


The role of the target cell in neurotrophin-induced modifications of glutamatergic synaptic transmission was examined in cultured hippocampal neurons. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) induced rapid and persistent potentiation of evoked glutamate release when the postsynaptic neuron was glutamatergic, or excitatory (E-->E), but not when it was GABAergic, or inhibitory (E-->1). This target-specific action of BDNF was also found at divergent outputs of a single presynaptic neuron innervating both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons, suggesting that individual terminals can be independently modified. Surprisingly, BDNF increased the frequency of miniature postsynaptic currents at both E-->E and E-->I, although it had no effect on evoked currents at E-->I. Finally, potentiation by neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) was also target specific. The selective effect at E-->E suggests that retrograde signaling by the postsynaptic target cell endows a localized presynaptic action of neurotrophins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Neural Inhibition / drug effects
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurotrophin 3 / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Synaptic Membranes / chemistry
  • Synaptic Membranes / drug effects*
  • Synaptic Membranes / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Neurotrophin 3
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid