Neurotrophin regulation of cortical dendritic growth requires activity

Neuron. 1996 Dec;17(6):1057-64. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80239-1.


Neurotrophins have been proposed to mediate several forms of activity-dependent competition in the central nervous system. A key element of such hypotheses is that neurotrophins act preferentially on active neurons; however, little direct evidence supports this postulate. We therefore examined, in ferret cortical brain slices, the interactions between activity and neurotrophins in regulating dendritic growth of layer 4 pyramidal neurons. Inhibition of spontaneous electrical activity, synaptic transmission, or L-type calcium channels each prevented the otherwise dramatic increase in dendritic arborizations elicited by brain-derived neurotrophic factor. In developing cortex, this requirement for conjoint neurotrophin signaling and activity provides a mechanism for selectively enhancing the growth and connectivity of active neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects*
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Dendrites / drug effects*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Ferrets
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / drug effects
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor