Author(s): Lu P, Blesch A, Tuszynski MH
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Abstract Neurotrophic factors exert many effects on the intact and lesioned adult central nervous system (CNS). Among these effects are prevention of neuronal death (neurotrophism) and promotion of axonal growth (neurotropism) after injury. To date, however, it has not been established whether survival and axonal growth functions of neurotrophins can be independently modulated in injured adult neurons in vivo. To address this question, the ability of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to influence corticospinal motor neuronal survival and axonal growth was examined in two injury paradigms. In the first paradigm, a survival assay, adult Fischer 344 rats underwent subcortical lesions followed by grafts to the lesion cavity of syngenic fibroblasts genetically modified to secrete high amounts BDNF or, in control subjects, the reporter gene green fluorescent protein. In control subjects, only 36.2 +/- 7.0\% of the retrogradely labeled corticospinal neurons survived the lesion, whereas 89.8 +/- 5.9\% (P < 0.001) of the corticospinal neurons survived in animals that received BDNF-secreting grafts. However, in an axonal growth assay, BDNF-secreting cell grafts that were placed into either subcortical lesion sites or sites of thoracic spinal cord injury failed to elicit corticospinal axonal growth. Despite this lack of a neurotropic effect on lesioned corticospinal axons, BDNF-secreting cell grafts placed in the injured spinal cord significantly augmented the growth of other types of axons, including local motor, sensory, and coerulospinal axons. Immunolabeling for tyrosine kinase B (trkB) demonstrated that BDNF receptors were present on corticospinal neuronal somata and apical dendrites but were not detected on their projecting axons. Thus, single classes of neurons in the adult CNS appear to exhibit disparate survival and growth sensitivity to neurotrophic factors, potentially attributable at least in part to differential trafficking of neurotrophin receptors. The possibility of tropic/trophic divergence must be considered when designing strategies to promote CNS recovery from injury. Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
This article was published in J Comp Neurol
and referenced in Journal of Bioengineering & Biomedical Science