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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Lingual BDNF and NT-3 mRNA expression patterns and their relation to innervation in the human tongue: similarities and differences compared with rodents.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin 3 ( NT-3) mRNAs are expressed in developing and adult rodent tongue and are important for the proper development of lingual gustatory and somatosensory innervation in rodents. Here, we wished to determine whether the findings in rodents apply to humans. By using in situ hybridization histochemistry, distinct, specific, and in some instances overlapping patterns of BDNF and NT-3 mRNA expression were found in the developing and adult human tongue, gustatory papillae, and taste buds. BDNF mRNA was expressed in the superior surface epithelium of the developing fungiform papillae (i.e., developing taste buds), in the epithelium covering the circumvallate papillae, and in the subepithelial mesenchyme. Interestingly, BDNF mRNA was expressed in the lingual epithelium before nerve fibers reached the epithelium, indicating a prespecialization of the gustatory epithelium before the arrival of nerves. In the adult fungiform papillae, BDNF mRNA labeling was found in taste buds and in restricted areas in the non-gustatory lingual epithelium. NT-3 mRNA was found in the developing lingual epithelium and gustatory papillae. NT-3 mRNA labeling was observed in the adult fungiform taste buds, overlapping with BDNF mRNA labeling, in contrast to what was seen in rodents. NT-3 mRNA was additionally found in restricted areas in filiform papillae. Protein gene product 9.5 (PGP) antibodies were used to investigate a possible correlation between lingual innervation and sites of neurotrophin gene activity. Adult human tongue innervation differed from that of rodents, possibly in part due to a different neurotrophin expression pattern in the human tongue. Based on these findings, we suggest that BDNF and NT-3 are important for the initiation and maintenance of the gustatory and somatosensory innervation also in humans. The broader and somewhat overlapping expression patterns of BDNF and NT-3 mRNAs, compared with rodents, suggest additional and possibly somewhat overlapping roles for BDNF and NT-3 in the human tongue and also indicate differences between species. It is important that interspecies differences be taken into consideration.[1]


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