Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implications

Arch Med Sci. 2015 Dec 10;11(6):1164-78. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2015.56342. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in neuronal survival and growth, serves as a neurotransmitter modulator, and participates in neuronal plasticity, which is essential for learning and memory. It is widely expressed in the CNS, gut and other tissues. BDNF binds to its high affinity receptor TrkB (tyrosine kinase B) and activates signal transduction cascades (IRS1/2, PI3K, Akt), crucial for CREB and CBP production, that encode proteins involved in β cell survival. BDNF and insulin-like growth factor-1 have similar downstream signaling mechanisms incorporating both p-CAMK and MAPK that increase the expression of pro-survival genes. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor regulates glucose and energy metabolism and prevents exhaustion of β cells. Decreased levels of BDNF are associated with neurodegenerative diseases with neuronal loss, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's disease. Thus, BDNF may be useful in the prevention and management of several diseases including diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; diabetes mellitus; neurotransmission; signal transduction; β cell.