This is part of the Human perception programmeBack
Many neurons die as the normal brain develops. How this is regulated and whether the mechanism involves neurotrophic molecules from target cells are unknown.
We found that cultured neurons from a key forebrain structure, the dorsal thalamus, develop a need for survival factors including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF ) from their major target, the cerebral cortex, at the age at which they innervate it. Experiments in vivo have shown that rates of dorsal thalamic cell death are reduced by increasing cortical levels of BDNF and are increased in mutant mice lacking functional BDNF receptors or thalamocortical projections; these experiments have also shown that an increase in the rates of dorsal thalamic cell death can be achieved by blocking BDNF in the cortex.
We suggest that the onset of a requirement for cortex-derived neurotrophic factors initiates a competitive mechanism regulating programmed cell death among dorsal thalamic neurons.
The timing of cell death in the vision network is coincident with the end of the network’s formation. Target-Derived Neurotrophic Factors Regulate the Death of Developing Forebrain Neurons after a Change in their Trophic Requirements.
Lotto, R.B., Asavaritidrai, P., Vali, L. and Price, D.J. (2001)
Journal of Neuroscience 21:3904-3910.