Vasculature guides migrating neuronal precursors in the adult mammalian forebrain via brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling

J Neurosci. 2009 Apr 1;29(13):4172-88. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4956-08.2009.


Adult neuronal precursors retain the remarkable capacity to migrate long distances from the posterior (subventricular zone) to the most anterior [olfactory bulb (OB)] parts of the brain. The knowledge about the mechanisms that keep neuronal precursors in the migratory stream and organize this long-distance migration is incomplete. Here we show that blood vessels precisely outline the migratory stream for new neurons in the adult mammalian forebrain. Real-time video imaging of cell migration in the acute slices demonstrate that neuronal precursors are retained in the migratory stream and guided into the OB by blood vessels that serve as a physical substrate for migrating neuroblasts. Our data suggest that endothelial cells of blood vessels synthesize brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that fosters neuronal migration via p75NTR expressed on neuroblasts. Interestingly, GABA released from neuroblasts induces Ca(2+)-dependent insertion of high-affinity TrkB receptors on the plasma membrane of astrocytes that trap extracellular BDNF. We hypothesize that this renders BDNF unavailable for p75NTR-expressing migrating cells and leads to their entrance into the stationary period. Our findings provide new insights into the functional organization of substrates that facilitate the long-distance journey of adult neuronal precursors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Blood Vessels / physiology*
  • Boron Compounds / pharmacology
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1 / genetics
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • GABA Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / deficiency
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Video / methods
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / physiology*
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Receptor, trkB / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / deficiency
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology


  • Boron Compounds
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1
  • GABA Antagonists
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Slc1a3 protein, mouse
  • TNFRSF16 protein, mouse
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Calcium
  • Bicuculline