Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a protein that is essential for the growth, maintenance, and survival of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain and peripheral nervous system. It is one of the most studied neurotrophic factors, due to its important role in promoting neuronal activity and plasticity, as well as its potential therapeutic applications in treating neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease (García-Mesa, Blázquez-Llorca, & Esteban, 2016).
BDNF is a member of the neurotrophin family of proteins, which includes nerve growth factor (NGF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and neurotrophin-4 (NT-4). BDNF is synthesized in both the central and peripheral nervous systems and can interact with several different receptors, including TrkB, TrkC, and p75NTR (García-Mesa et al., 2016). It has been found to play a role in the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in learning and memory, as well as in the survival of existing neurons.
Studies have also shown that BDNF can have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may be beneficial for those with neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, it has been found to be involved in the regulation of synaptic plasticity, the process by which neurons are able to adapt and respond to changing environmental stimuli (García-Mesa et al., 2016). This may explain why BDNF levels tend to be lower in individuals with certain neurological disorders and why its administration may have a beneficial effect.
In summary, BDNF is an important neurotrophic factor involved in the formation and survival of neurons, as well as in synaptic plasticity. It has been studied extensively for its potential therapeutic applications in treating neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and its anti-inflammatory effects. Further research is needed to better understand the role of BDNF in the body and its potential therapeutic uses.
García-Mesa, Y., Blázquez-Llorca, L., & Esteban, J. A. (2016). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor: Its role in health and disease. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 548. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2016.00548