PILOT PROJECT #2
DR. KENIRA THOMPSON, PH.D.
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR PHYSIOLOGY DEPARTMENT
PILOT P1


“BDNF and hippocampal plasticity at the mossy fiber-CA3 synapse”


Biographical Sketch
 

The overall goal of this proposal is to examine the role of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophin factor (BDNF) on hippocampal functioning. BDNF is well-characterized as a regulator of neuronal growth and survival, and it plays an important role in both short and long-term plasticity at NMDA-dependent synapses in the hippocampus. Recent evidence suggests that BDNF also modulates plasticity at non-NMDA dependent synapses, yet the mechanisms underlying this modulation are not clear. In this proposal we will examine the role of BDNF on plasticity at the NMDA-independent mossy fiber-CA3 (MF-CA3) pathway of the hippocampus. The central hypothesis is that BDNF results in enhanced MF-CA3 long term potentiation (LTP), and improved hippocampal learning. In Specific Aim 1, we will characterize the effects of BDNF on mossy fiber-CA3 LTP in vitro. In Specific Aim 2, we will determine the effect of BDNF on calcium influx at the mossy fiber-CA3 synapse. Specific Aim 3 will characterize the role of endogenous BDNF on hippocampal learning. Specific Aim 4 will determine the effect of intrahippocampal BDNF infusions on hippocampla learning. Our proposed research is clinically relevant because understanding the role of growth factors, such as BDNF, on hippocampal plasticity during learning could lead to interventions to augment hippocampal functioning.