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Emergence of brain-derived neurotrophic factor-induced postsynaptic potentiation of NMDA currents during the postnatal maturation of the Kölliker–Fuse nucleus of rat

By Miriam Kron, Julia Reuter, Ellen Gerhardt, Till Manzke, Weiqi Zhang and Mathias Dutschmann


The Kölliker–Fuse nucleus (KF) contributes essentially to respiratory pattern formation and adaptation of breathing to afferent information. Systems physiology suggests that these KF functions depend on NMDA receptors (NMDA-R). Recent investigations revealed postnatal changes in the modulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the KF. Therefore, we investigated postnatal changes in NMDA-R subunit composition and postsynaptic modulation of NMDA-R-mediated currents by BDNF in KF slice preparations derived from three age groups (neonatal: postnatal day (P) 1–5; intermediate: P6–13; juvenile: P14–21). Immunohistochemistry showed a developmental up-regulation of the NR2D subunit. This correlated with a developmental increase in decay time of NMDA currents and a decline of desensitization in response to repetitive exogenous NMDA applications. Thus, developmental up-regulation of the NR2D subunit, which reduces the Mg2+ block of NMDA-R, causes these specific changes in NMDA current characteristics. This may determine the NMDA-R-dependent function of the mature KF in the control of respiratory phase transition. Subsequent experiments revealed that bath-application of BDNF progressively potentiated these repetitively evoked NMDA currents only in intermediate and juvenile age groups. Pharmacological inhibition of protein kinase C (PKC), as a downstream component of the BDNF–tyrosine kinase B receptor (trkB) signalling, prevented BDNF-induced potentiation of NMDA currents. BDNF-induced potentiation of NMDA currents in later developmental stages might be essential for synaptic plasticity during the adaptation of the breathing pattern in response to peripheral/central commands. The lack of plasticity in neonatal neurones strengthens the hypothesis that the respiratory network becomes permissive for activity-dependent plasticity with ongoing postnatal development

Topics: Respiratory
Publisher: Blackwell Science Inc
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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