The glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a potent survival factor for several neuronal populations in different brain regions, including the hippocampus. However, no information is available on the: (1) hippocampal subregions involved in the GDNF-neuroprotective actions upon excitotoxicity, (2) identity of GDNF-responsive hippocampal cells, (3) transduction pathways involved in the GDNF-mediated neuroprotection in the hippocampus. We addressed these questions in organotypic hippocampal slices exposed to GDNF in presence of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) by immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, and confocal analysis. In hippocampal slices GDNF acts through the activation of the tyrosine kinase receptor, Ret, without involving the NCAM-mediated pathway. Both Ret and ERK phosphorylation mainly occurred in the CA3 region where the two activated proteins co-localized. GDNF protected in a greater extent CA3 rather than CA1 following NMDA exposure. This neuroprotective effect targeted preferentially neurons, as assessed by NeuN staining. GDNF neuroprotection was associated with a significant increase of Ret phosphorylation in both CA3 and CA1. Interestingly, confocal images revealed that upon NMDA exposure, Ret activation occurred in microglial cells in the CA3 and CA1 following GDNF exposure. Collectively, this study shows that CA3 and CA1 hippocampal regions are highly responsive to GDNF-induced Ret activation and neuroprotection, and suggest that, upon excitotoxicity, such neuroprotection involves a GDNF modulation of microglial cell activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)