Reduced size of retinal ganglion cell axons and hypomyelination in mice lacking brain-derived neurotrophic factor

Mol Cell Neurosci. 1997;9(5-6):397-408. doi: 10.1006/mcne.1997.0641.


While brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) delays the death of axotomized retinal ganglion cells in rodents, it is unclear if it affects any aspect of the normal development of these cells. Here we examined the optic nerve of bdnf-/- mice. Axonal numbers were normal, but their diameter, as well as the proportion of myelinated axons, was reduced at postnatal day 20 (P20). In contrast, the facial nerve was not hypomyelinated. Expression levels of mRNAs coding for the myelin proteins PLP and MBP were substantially reduced in the hippocampus and cortex at P20, but not in the sciatic nerve. Intraventricular injections of BDNF into the ventricles of wild-type mice at P10 and P12 up-regulated expression of PLP in the hippocampus at P14. These results indicate a role of BDNF, discussed as indirect, in the control of myelination in the central nervous system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Apoproteins / drug effects
  • Apoproteins / genetics
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / deficiency*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology
  • Cell Count / drug effects
  • Cell Size / genetics
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Facial Nerve / physiology
  • Facial Nerve / ultrastructure
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein / biosynthesis
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein / drug effects
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein / genetics
  • Myelin Sheath / genetics*
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Optic Nerve / physiology
  • Optic Nerve / ultrastructure
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology*
  • Thyroid Hormones / genetics
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism


  • Apoproteins
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thyroid Hormones