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The role of neurotrophins in the seasonal-like growth of the avian song control system

TitleThe role of neurotrophins in the seasonal-like growth of the avian song control system
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWissman AM, Brenowitz EA
JournalJ Neurosci
Date Published2009
ISBN Number1529-2401 (Electronic)
KeywordsCues, Analysis of Variance, Ecosystem, Animals, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor/genetics/*metabolism/pharmacology, Soil Microbiology, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Environment, Environmental Monitoring, Male, Gene Expression Regulation/drug effects, Oncogene Proteins/administration & dosage, RNA, Messenger/metabolism, Testosterone/*administration & dosage/blood, Vocalization, Animal/*drug effects/physiology, Receptor, trkB/genetics/metabolism, Radioimmunoassay/methods, Students

The avian song control system undergoes pronounced seasonal plasticity in response to photoperiod and hormonal cues. The action of testosterone (T) and its metabolites in the song nucleus HVC is both necessary and sufficient to promote breeding season-like growth of its efferent nuclei RA (robust nucleus of the arcopallium) and Area X, suggesting that HVC may release a trophic factor such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) into RA and X. BDNF is involved in many forms of adult neural plasticity in other systems and is present in the avian song system. We used a combination of in situ hybridization and intracerebral infusions to test whether BDNF plays a role in the seasonal-like growth of the song system in adult male white-crowned sparrows. BDNF mRNA levels increased in HVC in response to breeding conditions, and BDNF infusion into RA was sufficient to promote breeding-like changes in somatic area and neuronal density. Expression of the mRNA for the Trk B receptor of BDNF, however, did not vary with seasonal conditions in either HVC or RA. Local blockade of BDNF activity in RA via infusion of Trk-Fc fusion proteins inhibited the response to breeding conditions. Our results indicate that BDNF is sufficient to promote the seasonal plasticity in somatic area and cell density in RA, although NT-3 may also contribute to this process, and suggest that HVC may be a presynaptic source of increased levels of BDNF in RA of breeding-condition birds.