The Brain-Uterus Connection: Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and Its Receptor (Ntrk2) Are Conserved in the Mammalian Uterus
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The neurotrophins are neuropeptides that are potent regulators of neurite growth and survival. Although mainly studied in the brain and nervous system, recent reports have shown that neurotrophins are expressed in multiple target tissues and cell types throughout the body. Additionally, dysregulation of neurotrophins has been linked to several disease conditions including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, psychiatric disorders, and cancer. Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a member of the neurotrophin family that elicits its actions through the neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase type 2 (Ntrk2). Together BDNF and Ntrk2 are capable of activating the adhesion, angiogenesis, apoptosis, and proliferation pathways. These pathways are prominently involved in reproductive physiology, yet a cross-species examination of BDNF and Ntrk2 expression in the mammalian uterus is lacking. Herein we demonstrated the conserved nature of BDNF and Ntrk2 across several mammalian species by mRNA and protein sequence alignment, isolated BDNF and Ntrk2 transcripts in the uterus by Real-Time PCR, localized both proteins to the glandular and luminal epithelium, vascular smooth muscle, and myometrium of the uterus, determined that the major isoforms expressed in the human endometrium were pro-BDNF, and truncated Ntrk2, and finally demonstrated antibody specificity. Our findings suggest that BDNF and Ntrk2 are transcribed, translated, and conserved across mammalian species including human, mouse, rat, pig, horse, and the bat.
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