BDNF Facilitates Instrumental Learning and Spinal Plasticity In Vivo.
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Prior work has shown that the neurotrophin, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), fosters adaptive plasticity within the spinal cord. To be clinically useful, BDNF must be applied over extended periods of time (days to weeks). The present proposal evaluated whether this can be accomplished using a hydrogel containing BDNF. Using in vitro procedures, a hydrogel was developed that slowly releases BDNF over a one-week period. We tested the effectiveness of this hydrogel in vivo. The impact of drug treatment was assessed by testing its effect on mechanical reactivity and spinal learning. Spinally transected rats had the BDNF-containing hydrogel applied over the lumbosacral spinal cord. Subjects were tested 3-24 hrs later. Prior work has shown that BDNF enhances learning (adaptive plasticity) without affecting mechanical reactivity (a form of maladaptive plasticity indicative of enhanced pain). I found that BDNF applied using a hydrogel fostered adaptive plastic without affecting mechanical reactivity. This work provides the foundation for future studies designed to test drug effectiveness after a contusion injury.
SubjectBrain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), spinal cord, instrumental learning, facilitation, plasticity
Niemerski, Ashley (2014). BDNF Facilitates Instrumental Learning and Spinal Plasticity In Vivo.. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from