GDNF is an age-specific survival factor for sensory and autonomic neurons

Neuron. 1995 Oct;15(4):821-8. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(95)90173-6.


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) promotes the survival of two populations of CNS neurons: motoneurons and midbrain dopaminergic neurons. To see whether GDNF promotes the survival of PNS neurons, we studied embryonic chicken autonomic and sensory neurons in culture. We show that GDNF promotes the survival of sympathetic, parasympathetic, proprioceptive, enteroceptive, and small and large cutaneous sensory neurons. Whereas sympathetic, parasympathetic, and proprioceptive neurons become less responsive to GDNF with age, enteroceptive and cutaneous sensory neurons become more responsive. GDNF mRNA is expressed in the tissues innervated by these neurons, and developmental changes in its expression in several tissues mirror the changing responses of the innervating neurons to GDNF. These results show that GDNF promotes the survival of multiple PNS and CNS neurons and suggest that GDNF may be important for regulating the survival of various populations of neurons at different stages of their development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Cell Survival*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Gene Expression
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Mesencephalon / embryology
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Nodose Ganglion / cytology
  • Nodose Ganglion / embryology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / cytology
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / embryology
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / cytology
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / embryology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Dopamine