Glucocorticoid attenuates brain-derived neurotrophic factor-dependent upregulation of glutamate receptors via the suppression of microRNA-132 expression

Neuroscience. 2010 Feb 17;165(4):1301-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.11.057. Epub 2009 Dec 1.


Brain-specific microRNAs (miRs) may be involved in synaptic plasticity through the control of target mRNA translation. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) also contributes to the regulation of synaptic function. However, the possible involvement of miRs in BDNF-regulated synaptic function is poorly understood. Importantly, an increase in glucocorticoid levels and the downregulation of BDNF are supposed to be involved in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders. Previously, we reported that glucocorticoid exposure inhibited BDNF-regulated synaptic function via weakening mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (MAPK/ERK) and/or phospholipase C-gamma (PLC-gamma) intracellular signaling in cultured neurons [Kumamaru et al (2008) Mol Endocrinol 22:546-558; Numakawa et al (2009) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:647-652]. Therefore, in this study, we investigate the possible influence of glucocorticoid on BDNF/miRs-stimulated biological responses in cultured cortical neurons. Significant upregulation of miR-132 was caused by BDNF, although miR-9, -124, -128a, -128b, -134, -138, and -16 were intact. Transfection of exogenous ds-miR-132 induced marked upregulation of glutamate receptors (NR2A, NR2B, and GluR1), suggesting that miR-132 has a positive effect on the increase in postsynaptic proteins levels. Consistently, transfection of antisense RNA to inhibit miR-132 function decreased the BDNF-dependent increase in the expression of postsynaptic proteins. U0126, an inhibitor of the MAPK/ERK pathway, suppressed the BDNF-increased miR-132, suggesting that BDNF upregulates miR-132 via the MAPK/ERK1/2 pathway. Interestingly, pretreatment with glucocorticoid (dexamethasone, DEX) reduced BDNF-increased ERK1/2 activation, miR-132 expression, and postsynaptic proteins. We demonstrate that the exposure of neurons to an excess glucocorticoid results in a decrease in the BDNF-dependent neuronal function via suppressing miR-132 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Butadienes / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • RNA, Antisense / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Butadienes
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Glucocorticoids
  • MicroRNAs
  • NR2A NMDA receptor
  • NR2B NMDA receptor
  • Nitriles
  • RNA, Antisense
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • U 0126
  • Dexamethasone
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1