Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF, is a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the BDNF gene. BDNF is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors, which are related to the canonical Nerve Growth Factor. Neurotrophic factors are found in the brain and the periphery.
BDNF acts on certain neurons of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, helping to support the survival of existing neurons, and encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses.
BDNF is made in the endoplasmic reticulum and secreted from dense-core vesicles. It binds carboxypeptidase E (CPE), and the disruption of this binding has been proposed to cause the loss of sorting of BDNF into dense-core vesicles.
BDNF binds at least two receptors on the surface of cells that are capable of responding to this growth factor, TrkB (pronounced “Track B”) and the LNGFR (for low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor, also known as p75). It may also modulate the activity of various neurotransmitter receptors, including the Alpha-7 nicotinic receptor.
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