Ruiqian Wan, Letitia A. Weigand, Ryan Bateman, Kathleen Griffioen, David Mendelowitz and Mark P. Mattson Evidence that BDNF regulates heart rate by a mechanism involving increased brainstem parasympathetic neuron excitability Journal of Neurochemistry 129
Mice with reduced BDNF levels exhibit elevated heart rate, and infusion of BDNF into the brain normalizes heart rate by a mechanism involving increased brainstem cardioinhibitory parasympathetic activity. Recordings from pre-motor cholinergic cardioinhibitory vagal neurons (CVNs) in the nucleus ambiguus indicate that BDNF increases CVN activity by increasing excitatory glutamatergic and decreasing inhibitory GABAergic neurotransmission to these neurons. Perhaps factors that increase parasympathetic tone (e.g., exercise) reduce resting heart rate, in part, by a BDNF-mediated mechanism.
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