The protein brain‐derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been postulated to be a retrograde or paracrine synaptic messenger in long‐term potentiation and other forms of activity‐dependent synaptic plasticity. Although crucial for this concept, direct evidence for the activity‐dependent synaptic release of BDNF is lacking. Here we investigate secretion of BDNF labelled with green fluorescent protein (BDNF–GFP) by monitoring the changes in fluorescence intensity of dendritic BDNF–GFP vesicles at glutamatergic synaptic junctions of living hippocampal neurons. We show that high‐frequency activation of glutamatergic synapses triggers the release of BDNF–GFP from synaptically localized secretory granules. This release depends on activation of postsynaptic ionotropic glutamate receptors and on postsynaptic Ca2+ influx. Release of BDNF–GFP is also observed from extrasynaptic dendritic vesicle clusters, suggesting that a possible spatial restriction of BDNF release to specific synaptic sites can only occur if the postsynaptic depolarization remains local. These results support the concept of BDNF being a synaptic messenger of activity‐dependent synaptic plasticity, which is released from postsynaptic neurons.
The EMBO Journal – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2001
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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