The role of neurotrophins in neurotransmitter release

William J. Tyler, Stephen P. Perrett, Lucas D. Pozzo-Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


The neurotrophins (NTs) have recently been shown to elicit pronounced effects on quantal neurotransmitter release at both central and peripheral nervous system synapses. Due to their activity-dependent release, as well as the subcellular localization of both protein and receptor, NTs are ideally suited to modify the strength of neuronal connections by "fine-tuning" synaptic activity through direct actions at presynaptic terminals. Here, using BDNF as a prototypical example, the authors provide an update of recent evidence demonstrating that NTs enhance quantal neurotransmitter release at synapses through presynaptic mechanisms. The authors further propose that a potential target for NT actions at presynaptic terminals is the mechanism by which terminals retrieve synaptic vesicles after exocytosis. Depending on the temporal demands placed on synapses during high-frequency synaptic transmission, synapses may use two alternative modes of synaptic vesicle retrieval, the conventional slow endosomal recycling or a faster rapid retrieval at the active zone, referred to as "kiss-and-run." By modulating Ca2+ microdomains associated with voltage-gated Ca2+ channels at active zones, NTs may elicit a switch from the slow to the fast mode of endocytosis of vesicles at presynaptic terminals during high-frequency synaptic transmission, allowing more reliable information transfer and neuronal signaling in the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-531
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF
  • Docked vesicles
  • Fusion pore
  • Hippocampus
  • Poisson stimulation
  • Quantal release
  • SNARE proteins
  • Synaptic vesicles
  • TrkB
  • Voltage-gated Ca channels
  • mEPSC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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