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J Comp Neurol September 15, 1997; 386 (1): 149-60.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor/neurotrophin-4 receptor TrkB is localized on ganglion cells and dopaminergic amacrine cells in the vertebrate retina.

Cellerino A , Kohler K .

The tyrosine kinase TrkB is a receptor for the neurotrophic factors brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-4 (NT-4). Retinal ganglion cells are responsive to BDNF, and TrkB has been localized in ganglion cells as well as in a subpopulation of amacrine cells in the retina of the chicken and the rat. In the present paper, we analyzed the distribution of TrkB immunoreactivity in the retina of marmoset monkeys, ferrets, rabbits, rats, mice, chickens, pigeons, barn owls, Pseudemys turtles, Xenopus frogs, goldfishes, and carps. TrkB antibodies gave a positive reaction in all of these vertebrates. TrkB immunoreactivity was detected in the majority of retinal ganglion cells. Some amacrine cells also contained TrkB immunoreactivity; they were located mainly at the vitreal border of the inner nuclear layer, and their relative abundance varied in the different species. Until now, no information has been available concerning the neurochemical identity of the amacrine neurons containing TrkB. In some species (marmoset monkeys, rats, pigeons), we observed that the morphology and location of TrkB-immunoreactive amacrine cells was reminiscent of that of the well-described dopaminergic cells. To determine whether dopaminergic amacrine cells contained TrkB immunoreactivity, we therefore performed double-labelling immunohistochemistry by using tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) antibodies in combination with TrkB antibodies in marmoset monkeys, rats, pigeons, Pseudemys turtles, and goldfishes. The most novel finding of the present paper is that, in all of these species, the majority of dopaminergic neurons were found to contain TrkB immunoreactivity. Dopaminergic neurons, on the other hand, represented only a fraction of the TrkB+ amacrine cells. Our data suggest that BDNF and/or NT-4 might modulate expression of TH in the retina and may therefore influence the retinal dopaminergic system. Whatever the action of TrkB ligands on the retinal dopaminergic system, it was conserved during vertebrate evolution.

PubMed ID: 9303531
Article link: J Comp Neurol

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: bdnf ntf4 ntrk2 th