BDNF and NT4/5 promote survival and neurite outgrowth of pontocerebellar mossy fiber neurons

Sylvia A. Rabacchi, Barbara Kruk, Jason Hamilton, Catrina Carney, John R. Hoffman, Sheryl L. Meyer, Joe E. Springer, Douglas H. Baird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The neurotrophins nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT3), and NT4/5 are all found in the developing cerebellum. Granule cells, the major target neurons of mossy fibers, express BDNF during mossy fiber synaptogenesis. To determine whether neurotrophins contribute to the development of cerebellar afferent axons, we characterized the effects of neurotrophins on the growth of mossy fiber neurons from mice and rats in vitro. For a mossy fiber source, we used the basilar pontine nuclei (BPN), the major source of cerebellar mossy fibers in mammals. BDNF and NT4/5 increased BPN neuron survival, neurite outgrowth, growth cone size, and elongation rate, while neither NT3 nor NGF increased survival or outgrowth. In addition, BDNF and NT4/5 reduced the size of neurite bundles. Consistent with these effects, in situ hybridization on cultured basilar pontine neurons revealed the presence of mRNA encoding the TrkB receptor which binds both BDNF and NT4/5 with high affinity. We detected little or no message encoding the TrkC receptor which preferentially binds NT3. BDNF and NT4/5 also increased TrkB mRNA levels in BPN neurons. In addition to previously established functions as an autocrine/paracrine trophic factor for granule cells, the present results indicate that cerebellar BDNF may also act as a target-derived trophic factor for basilar pontine mossy fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-269
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Basilar pontine nuclei
  • Cerebellum
  • Development
  • Growth cones
  • Mossy fibers
  • Neurotrophins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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