Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 17–32

What is the biological significance of BDNF mRNA targeting in the dendrites?

Clues from epilepsy and cortical development
  • Enrico Tongiorgi
  • Luciano Domenici
  • Michele Simonato

DOI: 10.1385/MN:33:1:017

Cite this article as:
Tongiorgi, E., Domenici, L. & Simonato, M. Mol Neurobiol (2006) 33: 17. doi:10.1385/MN:33:1:017


The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a regulatory factor of several, partially contrasting, aspects of the biology of neural cells, including survival, growth, differentiation, and cell death. Regulation of the local availability of BDNF at distinct subcellular domains such as the cell soma, dendrites, axons, and spines appears to be the key to conferring spatial and temporal specificity of the different effects elicited by this neurotrophin. This article reviews recent findings in the context of epileptogenesis and visual cortex maturation that showed that different BDNF messenger RNA (mRNA) transcripts are localized at different subcellular locations in hippocampal and cortical neurons. It also reviews findings demonstrating that strong depolarizing stimuli, both in vitro and in vivo, elicit accumulation of BDNF mRNA and protein in the distal dendrites through a signaling pathway involving the activation of the N-methyl-d-aspartate and tyrosine kinase B receptors and an intracellular increase in Ca2+ concentration. Finally, this article proposes that the regulation of the delivery of BDNF mRNA and protein to the different subcellular domains—particularly the dendritic compartment—may represent a fundamental aspect of the processes of cellular and synaptic morphological rearrangements underlying epileptogenesis and postnatal development of the visual cortex.

Index Entries

NeurotrophinsBDNF isoformsmRNA dendritic targetingcellular mRNA traffickinglocal protein synthesisvisual cortexhippocampussynaptogenesisepileptogenesistemporal lobe epilepsysynaptic maturation

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enrico Tongiorgi
    • 1
  • Luciano Domenici
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michele Simonato
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.BRAIN Centre for Neuroscience Department of BiologyUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Neuroscience (CNR)PisaItaly
  3. 3.International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA)TriesteItaly
  4. 4.Section of Pharmacology, Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  5. 5.Neuroscience CenterUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly