The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) participates in the regulation of cortical neurons by influencing the release of glutamate. However, the specific mechanisms are unclear. Hence, we isolated and cultured the cortical neurons of Sprague Dawley rats. Specific inhibitors of TrkB, Src, PLC-γ1, Akt, and MEK1/2 (i.e., K252a, PP2, U73122, LY294002, and PD98059, respectively) were used to treat cortical neurons and to detect the glutamate release from cortical neurons stimulated with BDNF. BDNF significantly increased glutamate release, and simultaneously enhanced phosphorylation levels of TrkB, Src, PLC-γ, Akt, and Erk1/2. For BDNF-stimulated cortical neurons, K252a inhibited glutamate release and inhibited the phosphorylation levels of TrkB, Src, PLC-γ, Erk1/2, and Akt (P < 0.05). PP2 reduced the glutamate release from BDNF-stimulated cortical neurons (P < 0.05) and inhibited the phosphorylation levels of TrkB and PLC-γ1 (P < 0.05). However, PP2 had no effect on the phosphorylation levels of Erk1/2 or Akt (P > 0.05). U73122 inhibited the glutamate release from BDNF-stimulated cortical neurons, but had no influence on the phosphorylation levels of TrkB, Src, Erk1/2, or Akt (P > 0.05). LY294002 and PD98059 did not affect the BDNF-stimulated glutamate release and did not inhibit the phosphorylation levels of TrkB, Src, or PLC-γ1. In summary, BDNF stimulated the glutamate release from cortical neurons via the TrkB/Src/PLC-γ1 signaling pathway. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 144–151, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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