BDNF is a member of the neurotrophin family. BDNF is synthesized as pre-proBDNF, followed by cleavage to proBDNF. Although further processing generates the mature, 14 kDa protein, proBDNF is biologically active and is secreted from synaptic vesicles along with the mature form. BDNF is widely expressed in the central nervous system where it acts in an autocrine and paracrine manner on several classes of neurons. BDNF signaling occurs mainly through the receptor tyrosine kinase TrkB, although binding to the lower-affinity receptor p75NTR has also been demonstrated. Functionally, BDNF promotes neuronal survival and differentiation, it is involved in axonal growth and dendritic growth and morphology, and it is known to be a major regulator of synaptic transmission and plasticity at adult synapses in many regions of the CNS. Additionally, BDNF has been shown to play a critical role in memory formation and synaptic regulation.
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