Brain-derived neurotrophic factor interacts with astrocytes and neurons to control respiration

Authors

  • Céline Caravagna,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Laval University, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de Québec, Hôpital St-François d'Assise, Québec, QC, Canada
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  • Jorge Soliz,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Laval University, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de Québec, Hôpital St-François d'Assise, Québec, QC, Canada
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  • Tommy Seaborn

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pediatrics, Laval University, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de Québec, Hôpital St-François d'Assise, Québec, QC, Canada
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Abstract

Respiratory rhythm is generated and modulated in the brainstem. Neuronal involvement in respiratory control and rhythmogenesis is now clearly established. However, glial cells have also been shown to modulate the activity of brainstem respiratory groups. Although the potential involvement of other glial cell type(s) cannot be excluded, astrocytes are clearly involved in this modulation. In parallel, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) also modulates respiratory rhythm. The currently available data on the respective roles of astrocytes and BDNF in respiratory control and rhythmogenesis lead us to hypothesize that there is BDNF-mediated control of the communication between neurons and astrocytes in the maintenance of a proper neuronal network capable of generating a stable respiratory rhythm. According to this hypothesis, progression of Rett syndrome, an autism spectrum disease with disordered breathing, can be stabilized in mouse models by re-expressing the normal gene pattern in astrocytes or microglia, as well as by stimulating the BDNF signaling pathway. These results illustrate how the signaling mechanisms by which glia exerts its effects in brainstem respiratory groups is of great interest for pathologies associated with neurological respiratory disorders.

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