Variant BDNF-Val66Met polymorphism is associated with layer-specific alterations in GABAergic innervation of pyramidal neurons, elevated anxiety and reduced vulnerability of adolescent male mice to activity-based anorexia

Yi Wen Chen, Olivia Surgent, Barkha S. Rana, Francis Lee, Chiye Aoki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previously, we determined that rodents' vulnerability to food restriction (FR)-evoked wheel running during adolescence (activity-based anorexia, ABA) is associated with failures to increase GABAergic innervation of hippocampal and medial prefrontal pyramidal neurons. Since brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promotes GABAergic synaptogenesis, we hypothesized that individual differences in this vulnerability may arise from differences in the link between BDNF bioavailability and FR-evoked wheel running. We tested this hypothesis in male BDNF-Val66Met knock-in mice (BDNFMet/Met), known for reduction in the activity-dependent BDNF secretion and elevated anxiety-like behaviors. We found that 1) in the absence of FR or a wheel (i.e., control), BDNFMet/Met mice are more anxious than wild-type (WT) littermates, 2) electron microscopically verified GABAergic innervations of pyramidal neurons of BDNFMet/Met mice are reduced at distal dendrites in hippocampal CA1 and medial prefrontal cortex, 3) following ABA, WT mice exhibit anxiety equal to those of the BDNFMet/Met mice and have lost GABAergic innervation along distal dendrites, 4) BDNFMet/Met mice show blunted ABA vulnerability, and 5) unexpectedly, GABAergic innervation is higher at somata of BDNFMet/Met mice than of WT. We conclude that laminaspecific GABAergic inhibition is important for regulating anxiety, whether arising from environmental stress, such as food deprivation, or genetically, such as BDNFMet/Met single nucleotide polymorphism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3980-3993
Number of pages14
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017



  • Dendritic tuft
  • Hippocampus
  • Medial prefrontal
  • Prelimbic
  • food restriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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