• brain-derived neurotrophic factor;
  • gene expression;
  • human;
  • mRNA;
  • RT-PCR


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) supports hippocampal, cortical and basal forebrain cholinergic neurons, which lose function in Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's tissues such as hippocampus and parietal cortex, brain- derived neurotrophic factor mRNA is decreased three- to four-fold compared with controls. However, the molecular mechanism of the down-regulation of BDNF in Alzheimer's disease is unknown. The human brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene has multiple promoters governing six non-coding upstream exons that are spliced to one downstream coding exon, leading to six different transcripts. Here we report an alternate human splice variant within exon 4I for a total of seven transcripts. Previous brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA measurements in Alzheimer's disease tissue were done using the downstream coding exon present in all transcripts. Using RT-PCR primers specific for each upstream exon, we observe a significant decrease in three human brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA transcripts in Alzheimer's disease samples compared with controls. Transcripts 1 and 3 each exhibit a two-fold decrease, and transcript 2 shows a five-fold decrease. There are no significant differences between control and Alzheimer's disease samples for the other transcripts, including the new splice variant. In rat, both transcripts 1 and 3 are regulated through the transcription factor cAMP response element binding protein, whose phosphorylation is decreased in the Alzheimer's disease brain. This could lead to specific down-regulation of the brain-derivedneurotrophic factor transcripts shown here.