Sunday, 18 March 2012

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF, is a secreted protein that, in humans, is encoded by the BDNF gene. BDNF is a member of the "neurotrophin" family of growth factors, which are related to the canonical "Nerve Growth Factor", NGF. Neurotrophic factors are found in the brain and the periphery.

BDNF acts on certain neurons of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, helping to support the survival of existing neurons, and encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. In the brain, it is active in the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain—areas vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking. BDNF itself is important for long-term memory. BDNF was the second neurotrophic factor to be characterized after nerve growth factor (NGF).

Although the vast majority of neurons in the mammalian brain are formed prenatally, parts of the adult brain retain the ability to grow new neurons from neural stem cells in a process known as neurogenesis. Neurotrophins are chemicals that help to stimulate and control neurogenesis, BDNF being one of the most active. Mice born without the ability to make BDNF suffer developmental defects in the brain and sensory nervous system, and usually die soon after birth, suggesting that BDNF plays an important role in normal neural development.


Click here for a list of research involving BDNF. 

1 comments:

  • Rob Walsh says:
    18 March 2012 at 20:06

    I have noticed that BDNF seems to be cropping up a lot in recent research.

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