Inhibitory but not excitatory cortical neurons require presynaptic brain-derived neurotrophic factor for dendritic development, as revealed by chimera cell culture.
To address questions of whether endogenous BDNF acts differentially on inhibitory and excitatory neurons, and through what routes, we used chimera culture of cerebral cortical neurons derived from BDNF-/- mice and another type of transgenic mice that express green fluorescence protein and BDNF. Presynaptic BDNF transferred to both types of neurons, GABA-synthesizing enzyme-positive and -negative neurons. The latter neurons were confirmed to be glutamatergic with immunocytochemistry. Dendritic development of the former inhibitory neurons was promoted by endogenous BDNF transferred from presynaptic, excitatory neurons. In contrast, dendritic development of excitatory neurons was not related to the presence or absence of presynaptic BDNF, suggesting that BDNF acts on inhibitory neurons through an anterograde, transsynaptic route so as to promote dendritic development, whereas this is not the case in excitatory neurons.