Activity-dependent release of endogenous brain-derived neurotrophic factor from primary sensory neurons detected by ELISA in situ

A. Balkowiec, D. M. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

294 Scopus citations


To define activity-dependent release of endogenous brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), we developed an in vitro model using primary sensory neurons and a modified ELISA, termed ELISA in situ. Dissociate cultures of nodose-petrosal ganglion cells from newborn rats were grown in wells precoated with anti-BDNF antibody to capture released BDNF, which was subsequently detected using conventional ELISA. Conventional ELISA alone was unable to detect any increase in BDNF concentration above control values following chronic depolarization with 40 mM KCI for 72 hr. However, ELISA in situ demonstrated a highly significant increase in BDNF release, from 65 pg/ml in control to 228 pg/ml in KCI-treated cultures. The efficacy of the in situ assay appears to be related primarily to rapid capture of released BDNF that prevents BDNF binding to the cultured cells. We therefore used this approach to compare BDNF release from cultures exposed for 30 min to either continuous depolarization with elevated KCI or patterned electrical field stimulation (50 biphasic rectangular pulses of 25 msec, at 20 Hz, every 5 sec). Short-term KCI depolarization was completely ineffective at evoking any detectable release of BDNF, whereas patterned electrical stimulation increased extracellular BDNF levels by 20-fold. In addition, the magnitude of BDNF release was dependent on stimulus pattern, with high-frequency bursts being most effective. These data indicate that the optimal stimulus profile for BDNF release resembles that of other neuroactive peptides. Moreover, our findings demonstrate that BDNF release can encode temporal features of presynaptic neuronal activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7417-7423
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF release
  • Chronic depolarization
  • ELISA in situ
  • Electrical field stimulation
  • Frequency
  • P-CREB
  • Patterned stimulation
  • Primary sensory neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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