Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is present in adult mouse taste cells with synapses

J Comp Neurol. 2003 Apr 21;459(1):15-24. doi: 10.1002/cne.10589.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), one of the members of the nerve growth factor family of neurotrophins, is expressed in developing gustatory papillae and is thought to be the neurotrophin that supports gustatory innervation during development. BDNF expression does not cease after development but continues in some taste cells of adult mice. To determine which types of taste cells produce BDNF, we undertook an immunohistochemical study of taste cells in BDNF(LacZ) gene targeted "knock-in" adult mice. In these mice, beta-galactosidase (beta-gal) immunoreactivity is an indicator of cells that produce BDNF transcripts. In the tongues of adult BDNF(LacZ) mice, beta-gal (BDNF) is present in long slender taste cells, as well as pyriform taste cells. Bromodeoxyuridine labeling experiments in BDNF(LacZ) mice indicate that BDNF is not present in taste cells that are younger than 3 days postmitotic. BDNF mainly colocalizes with markers of type II and type III taste cells: ubiquitin carboxyl terminal hydrolase (PGP 9.5), serotonin (5-HT), neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM), synaptic associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25), and to a lesser extent with alpha-gustducin. beta-Gal immunoreactivity is not associated with blood group H antigen, a marker of type I taste cells. We conclude that BDNF is absent from basal cells and type I (blood group H antigen immunoreactive) taste cells but is present in differentiated type II and type III taste cells. The presence of SNAP-25 in BDNF-expressing cells suggests a role for BDNF in synaptic formation and transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / analysis
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Synapses / chemistry
  • Synapses / genetics
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25
  • Taste Buds / chemistry
  • Taste Buds / metabolism*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Snap25 protein, mouse
  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25