BDNF as a pain modulator

Prog Neurobiol. 2008 Jul;85(3):297-317. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2008.04.004. Epub 2008 Apr 26.


At least some neurotrophins may be powerful modulators of synapses, thereby influencing short- and long-term synaptic efficiency. BDNF acts at central synapses in pain pathways both at spinal and supraspinal levels. Neuronal synthesis, subcellular storage/co-storage and release of BDNF at these synapses have been characterized on anatomical and physiological grounds, in parallel with trkB (the high affinity BDNF receptor) distribution. Histological and functional evidence has been provided, mainly from studies on acute slices and intact animals, that BDNF modulates fast excitatory (glutamatergic) and inhibitory (GABAergic/glycinergic) signals, as well as slow peptidergic neurotrasmission in spinal cord. Recent studies have unraveled some of the neuronal circuitries and mechanisms involved, highlighting the key role of synaptic glomeruli in lamina II as the main sites for such a modulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Nociceptors / metabolism
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Pain Management
  • Receptor, trkB / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptor, trkB