Reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor is associated with a loss of serotonergic innervation in the hippocampus of aging mice

Genes Brain Behav. 2007 Jul;6(5):482-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2006.00279.x. Epub 2006 Dec 6.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) regulates monoamine neuronal growth, survival and function in development and throughout adulthood. At 18 months of age, mice with constitutive reductions in BDNF expression show decreased serotonin innervation in the hippocampus compared with age-matched wildtype mice. It is not known, however, whether age-accelerated loss of serotonergic innervation in BDNF(+/-) mice occurs in other brain regions, advances beyond 18 months or is associated with alterations in other neurotransmitter systems. In this study, immunocytochemistry was used to assess serotonergic and catecholaminergic innervation in 26-month-old BDNF(+/-) mice. Age-related loss of serotonin axons in the hippocampus was potentiated in BDNF(+/-) mice compared with wildtype mice at this late age, particularly in the CA1 subregion. By contrast, aging BDNF(+/-) mice showed increased serotonin innervation of the basomedial nucleus of the amygdala. In the noradrenergic system, BDNF(+/-) mice showed reduced numbers of cell bodies and fibers in the locus coeruleus compared with age-matched wildtype mice, whereas no changes were observed in dopaminergic innervation with respect to genotype. In vivo zero net flux microdialysis in awake mice showed a significant decrease in extracellular serotonin levels in the hippocampus in BDNF(+/-) mice at 20 months of age. Thus, reduced BDNF is associated with altered serotonergic and noradrenergic innervation in aging mice and, in particular, with accelerated loss of serotonergic innervation to the hippocampus that is manifest as a decrease in basal neurotransmission.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Amygdala / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Heterozygote
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microdialysis
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism*
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine