The effect of brain-derived neurotrophic factor on neuritogenesis and synaptic plasticity in Aplysia neurons and the hippocampal cell line HiB5

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a key role in the differentiation and neuritogenesis of developing neurons, and in the synaptic plasticity of mature neurons, in the mammalian nervous system. BDNF binds to the receptor tyrosine kinase TrkB and transmits neurotrophic signals by activating neuron-specific tyrosine phosphorylation pathways. However, the neurotrophic function of BDNF in Aplysia neurons is poorly understood. We examined the specific effect of BDNF on neurite outgrowth and synaptic plasticity in cultured Aplysia neurons and a multipotent rat hippocampal stem cell line (HiB5). Our study indicates that mammalian BDNF has no significant effect on the neuritogenesis, neurotransmitter release, excitability, and synaptic plasticity of cultured Aplysia neurons in our experimental conditions. In contrast, BDNF in combination with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) increases the length of the neurites and the number of spine-like structures in cells of HiB5.