Neurotrophins regulate a variety of neuronal processes including differentiation, survival, and plasticity. Neurotrophins facilitate the induction of long-term potentiation in hippocampal slices. Schinder et al. analyzed changes in synaptic strength of glutamatergic synapses in response to treatment with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or neurotrophin-3 (NT-3). Excitatory synapses (glutamatergic to glutamatergic) were strengthened by application of BDNF or NT-3, however, inhibitory synapses (glutamatergic to GABAergic) were unaffected by the neurotrophins. The specificity of the neurotrophin-induced potentiation was maintained even if a single presynaptic neuron diverged to create synapses with an excitatory postsynaptic neuron and an inhibitory postsynaptic neuron. The data are consistent with a presynaptic mechanism of potentiation for BDNF-treated cells and show that individual nerve terminals from the same neuron can be regulated independently by neurotrophins.
Schinder, A.F., Berninger,B., and Poo, M.-M. (2000) Postsynaptic target specificity of neurotrophin-induced presynaptic potentiation. Neuron 25: 151-163. [Online Journal]