Aim: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) reduces plasma glucose levels in obese db/db diabetic mice and is speculated to produce its effects via the hypothalamus, the regulatory centre of satiety and the autonomic nervous system. The potential effect of BDNF directly on peripheral endocrine organs, however, remains to be clarified. Here we report the effects of BDNF on hormonal secretion from pancreatic islets of Langerhans using their isolated culture.
Methods and results: In an immunohistochemical study, mouse pancreatic alpha cells were stained specifically with the anti-TrkB (a specific receptor for BDNF) antibody. After 7 days culture of isolated islets of the normal mouse pancreas, 10 ng/ml BDNF decreased the secretion of glucagon per 6 h significantly less than that of the control (p = 0.016). In contrast, there were no significant changes in insulin secretion or glucagon and insulin contents in the islets cultured under the same conditions. In vivo administration of BDNF (10 mg/kg/day) to normal mice for 7 days significantly decreased their food consumption (p < 0.05). The fasting plasma glucose levels were decreased on day 7 compared with day 1 more significantly in BDNF-treated mice (p = 0.043) than in pair-fed control mice (p = 0.14). In newborn BDNF-knockout mice, fasting plasma glucose levels increased in the order of homozygote, heterozygote and wild type (p = 0.033). No apparent immunohistochemical abnormality was observed for pancreatic glucagon in the BDNF-knockout mice.
Conclusion: These data suggest that BDNF affects glucose metabolism not only with its anorectic effect but also with modulated glucagon secretion from pancreatic alpha cells.