CD4+ T cell-mediated neuroprotection is independent of T cell-derived BDNF in a mouse facial nerve axotomy model

Junping Xin*, Nichole A. Mesnard, Taylor Beahrs, Derek A. Wainwright, Craig J. Serpe, Thomas D. Alexander, Virginia M. Sanders, Kathryn J. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: The production of neurotrophic factors, such as BDNF, has generally been considered an important mechanism of immune-mediated neuroprotection. However, the ability of T cells to produce BDNF remains controversial. Methods: In the present study, we examined mRNA and protein of BDNF using RT-PCR and western blot, respectively, in purified and reactivated CD4+ T cells. In addition, to determine the role of BDNF derived from CD4+ T cells, the BDNF gene was specifically deleted in T cells using the Cre-lox mouse model system. Results: Our results indicate that while both mRNA expression and protein secretion of BDNF in reactivated T cells were detected at 24h, only protein could be detected at 72h after reactivation. The results suggest a transient up-regulation of BDNF mRNA in reactivated T cells. Furthermore, in contrast to our hypothesis that the BDNF expression is necessary for CD4+ T cells to mediate neuroprotection, mice with CD4+ T cells lacking BDNF expression demonstrated a similar level of facial motoneuron survival compared to their littermates that expressed BDNF, and both levels were comparable to wild-type. The results suggest that the deletion of BDNF did not impair CD4+ T cell-mediated neuroprotection. Conclusion: Collectively, while CD4+ T cells are a potential source of BDNF after nerve injury, production of BDNF is not necessary for CD4+ T cells to mediate their neuroprotective effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)886-890
Number of pages5
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • CD4
  • Conditional gene knockout
  • Facial nerve axotomy
  • Motoneuron survival
  • T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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