Adenosinergic System and BDNF Signaling Changes as a Cross-Sectional Feature of RTT: Characterization of Mecp2 Heterozygous Mouse Females

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Nov 13;24(22):16249. doi: 10.3390/ijms242216249.


Rett Syndrome is an X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder (RTT; OMIM#312750) associated to MECP2 mutations. MeCP2 dysfunction is seen as one cause for the deficiencies found in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling, since BDNF is one of the genes under MeCP2 jurisdiction. BDNF signaling is also dependent on the proper function of the adenosinergic system. Indeed, both BDNF signaling and the adenosinergic system are altered in Mecp2-null mice (Mecp2-/y), a representative model of severe manifestation of RTT. Considering that symptoms severity largely differs among RTT patients, we set out to investigate the BDNF and ADO signaling modifications in Mecp2 heterozygous female mice (Mecp2+/-) presenting a less severe phenotype. Symptomatic Mecp2+/- mice have lower BDNF levels in the cortex and hippocampus. This is accompanied by a loss of BDNF-induced facilitation of hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP), which could be restored upon selective activation of adenosine A2A receptors (A2AR). While no differences were observed in the amount of adenosine in the cortex and hippocampus of Mecp2+/- mice compared with healthy littermates, the density of the A1R and A2AR subtype receptors was, respectively, upregulated and downregulated in the hippocampus. Data suggest that significant changes in BDNF and adenosine signaling pathways are present in an RTT model with a milder disease phenotype: Mecp2+/- female animals. These features strengthen the theory that boosting adenosinergic activity may be a valid therapeutic strategy for RTT patients, regardless of their genetic penetrance.

Keywords: BDNF; Mecp2 heterozygous females; Rett syndrome; adenosine.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor* / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / genetics
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Rett Syndrome* / metabolism


  • Adenosine
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Mecp2 protein, mouse
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2