BDNF and trkB mRNA expression in the hippocampus and temporal cortex during the human lifespan

M. J. Webster, M. M. Herman, J. E. Kleinman, C. Shannon Weickert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor tyrosine kinase B (trkB) influence neuronal survival, differentiation, synaptogenesis, and maintenance. Using in situ hybridization we examined the spatial and temporal expression of mRNAs encoding these proteins during diverse stages of life in the human hippocampus and inferior temporal cortex. We examined six postnatal time points: neonatal (1-3 months), infant (4-12 months), adolescent (14-18 years), young adult (20-24 years), adult (34-43 years), and aged (68-86 years). Within the hippocampus, levels of BDNF mRNA did not change significantly with age. However, levels of both the full-length form of trkB (trkBTK+) mRNA and the truncated form of trkB (trkBTK-) decreased over the life span (p < 0.05). In the temporal cortex, BDNF and trkBTK+ mRNA levels were highest in neonates and decreased with age (r = -0.4 and r = -0.7, respectively, both p < 0.05). In contrast, TrkBTK- mRNA levels remained constant across the life span in the temporal cortex. The peak in both BDNF and trkBTK+ mRNA expression in the neonate temporal cortex differs from that previously described for the frontal cortex where both mRNAs peak in expression during young adulthood. The increase in BDNF and trkBTK+ mRNA in the temporal cortex of the neonate suggests that neurotrophin signaling is important in the early development of the temporal cortex. In addition, since BDNF and both forms of its high affinity receptor are expressed throughout the development, maturation, and aging of the human hippocampus and surrounding neocortex they are likely to play roles not only in early growth but also in maintenance of neurons throughout life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-951
Number of pages11
JournalGene Expression Patterns
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Development
  • In situ hybridization
  • Neonate
  • Neurotrophin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'BDNF and trkB mRNA expression in the hippocampus and temporal cortex during the human lifespan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this