Interplay of BDNF and GDNF in the Mature Spinal Somatosensory System and Its Potential Therapeutic Relevance

Author(s): Francesco Ferrini, Chiara Salio, Elena M. Boggio, Adalberto Merighi*

Journal Name: Current Neuropharmacology

Volume 19 , Issue 8 , 2021

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Graphical Abstract:


The growth factors BDNF and GDNF are gaining more and more attention as modulators of synaptic transmission in the mature central nervous system (CNS). The two molecules undergo a regulated secretion in neurons and may be anterogradely transported to terminals where they can positively or negatively modulate fast synaptic transmission. There is today a wide consensus on the role of BDNF as a pro-nociceptive modulator, as the neurotrophin has an important part in the initiation and maintenance of inflammatory, chronic, and/or neuropathic pain at the peripheral and central level. At the spinal level, BDNF intervenes in the regulation of chloride equilibrium potential, decreases the excitatory synaptic drive to inhibitory neurons, with complex changes in GABAergic/glycinergic synaptic transmission, and increases excitatory transmission in the superficial dorsal horn. Differently from BDNF, the role of GDNF still remains to be unraveled in full. This review resumes the current literature on the interplay between BDNF and GDNF in the regulation of nociceptive neurotransmission in the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord. We will first discuss the circuitries involved in such a regulation, as well as the reciprocal interactions between the two factors in nociceptive pathways. The development of small molecules specifically targeting BDNF, GDNF and/or downstream effectors is opening new perspectives for investigating these neurotrophic factors as modulators of nociceptive transmission and chronic pain. Therefore, we will finally consider the molecules of (potential) pharmacological relevance for tackling normal and pathological pain.

Keywords: BDNF, GDNF, nociception, spinal dorsal horn, chronic pain, neuropathic pain.

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Article Details

Year: 2021
Published on: 16 November, 2020
Page: [1225 - 1245]
Pages: 21
DOI: 10.2174/1570159X18666201116143422
Price: $65

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