Influence of brain-derived neurotrophic factor on pathfinding of dentate granule cell axons, the hippocampal mossy fibers

Mol Brain. 2009 Jan 31;2:2. doi: 10.1186/1756-6606-2-2.


Mossy fibers, the dentate granule cell axons, are generated throughout an animal's lifetime. Mossy fiber paths and synapses are primarily restricted to the stratum lucidum within the CA3 region. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin family protein that activates Trk neurotrophin receptors, is highly expressed in the stratum lucidum in an activity-dependent manner. The addition of a Trk neurotrophin receptor inhibitor, K252a, to cultured hippocampal slices induced aberrant extension of mossy fibers into ectopic regions. BDNF overexpression in granule cells ameliorated the mossy fiber pathway abnormalities caused by a submaximal dose of K252a. A similar rescue was observed when BDNF was expressed in CA3 pyramidal cells, most notably in mossy fibers distal to the expression site. These findings are the first to clarify the role of BDNF in mossy fiber pathfinding, not as an attractant cue but as a regulator, possibly acting in a paracrine manner. This effect of BDNF may be as a signal for new fibers to fasciculate and extend further to form synapses with neurons that are far from active BDNF-expressing synapses. This mechanism would ensure the emergence of new independent dentate gyrus-CA3 circuits by the axons of new-born granule cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / drug effects
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Biological Assay
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Carbazoles / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Indole Alkaloids / pharmacology
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / drug effects
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / metabolism*
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Carbazoles
  • Indole Alkaloids
  • Peptides
  • staurosporine aglycone