BDNF has opposite effects on the quantal amplitude of pyramidal neuron and interneuron excitatory synapses

Neuron. 1998 Sep;21(3):521-30. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80563-2.


Recently, we have identified a novel form of synaptic plasticity that acts to stabilize neocortical firing rates by scaling the quantal amplitude of AMPA-mediated synaptic inputs up or down as a function of neuronal activity. Here, we show that the effects of activity blockade on quantal amplitude are mediated through the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Exogenous BDNF prevented, and a TrkB-IgG fusion protein reproduced, the effects of activity blockade on pyramidal quantal amplitude. BDNF had opposite effects on pyramidal neuron and interneuron quantal amplitudes and modified the ratio of pyramidal neuron to interneuron firing rates. These data demonstrate a novel role for BDNF in the homeostatic regulation of excitatory synaptic strengths and in the maintenance of the balance of cortical excitation and inhibition.

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 / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Interneurons / drug effects
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Pyramidal Cells / drug effects
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Quantum Theory
  • Rats
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor, Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptor, Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases