Alterations in the neuronal expression of some neurotrophins have been shown in various neurodegenerative processes, particularly Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Glia may up-regulate neurotrophins and their high-affinity tyrosine kinase (trk) receptors in response to neural injury. In human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) encephalitis, activated microglia were shown to express brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), while reactive astrocytes expressed trkB receptor. This observation has suggested the existence of local neurotrophic regulation between different glial populations.
To characterize the glial cellular distribution of BDNF and trkB receptor proteins in AD, we studied selected regions of postmortem brains from four AD and three age-matched control patients by double-immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. In both groups, BDNF immunoreactivity was distributed in neuronal perikarya and neuritic processes in the neocortex and hippocampus. No BDNF immunoreactivity was observed in microglia or astrocytes within and between senile plaques of AD. Catalytic trkB receptor immunoreactivity was present in neuronal perikarya in the neocortex and hippocampus. Reactive astrocytes and microglia were not immunoreactive for catalytic trkB. The absence of BDNF and trkB proteins in glia in AD patients is in contrast to the finding in patients with HIV-1 encephalitis.
This difference suggests that glial expression of BDNF and trkB proteins may be characteristic of particular disease processes, rather than merely representing a stereotyped response to any type of neural injury.
Source: Acta Neuropathol (Berl) 1999 Oct;98(4):345-8
PMID: 10502038, UI: 99431463
(Department of Pathology (Neuropathology), University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.)