Brain-derived neurotrophic factor prevents the death of motoneurons in newborn rats after nerve section
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Motoneurons innervating the skeletal musculature were among the first neurons shown to require the presence of their target cells to develop appropriately. But the characterization of molecules allowing motoneuron survival has been difficult. Ciliary neurotrophic factor prevents the death of motoneurons, but its gene is not expressed during development. Although the presence of a neurotrophin receptor on developing motoneurons has suggested a role for neurotrophins, none could be shown to promote motoneuron survival in vitro. We report here that brain-derived neurotrophic factor can prevent the death of axotomized motoneurons in newborn rats, suggesting a role for this neurotrophin for motoneuron survival in vivo.
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