Inactivation of bcl-2 results in progressive degeneration of motoneurons, sympathetic and sensory neurons during early postnatal development

Neuron. 1996 Jul;17(1):75-89. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80282-2.


Bcl-2 is a major regulator of programmed cell death, a critical process in shaping the developing nervous system. To assess whether Bcl-2 is involved in regulating neuronal survival and in mediating the neuroprotective action of neurotrophic factors, we generated Bcl-2-deficient mice. At birth, the number of facial motoneurons, sensory, and sympathetic neurons was not significantly changed, and axotomy-induced degeneration of facial motoneurons could still be prevented by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF). Interestingly, substantial degeneration of motoneurons, sensory, and sympathetic neurons occurred after the physiological cell death period. Accordingly, Bcl-2 is not a permissive factor for the action of neurotrophic factors, and although it does not influence prenatal neuronal survival, it is crucial for the maintenance of specific populations of neurons during the early postnatal period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / growth & development*
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacology
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Denervation
  • Facial Nerve / cytology
  • Facial Nerve / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Degeneration* / drug effects
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / pharmacology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / cytology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2