Nazareno Paolocci

Tuesday, 9 October 2018 | 12:00 noon

Johns Hopkins Heart & Vascular Institute e Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche Universita’ di Padova, ITALY

Keeping cool, calm, and connected:
How the BDNF/TrkB signal aids the failing heart

(Host: M. Giacca)

In his Histoire de ma vie, Casanova said that … “People who have said that irritations are more overwhelming than the greatest sicknesses which afflict our body, were wrong; since diseases of the mind attack the mind only, while those of the body batter the one, and desolate the other”. Brain- derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), through its specific receptor tyrosine kinase B (TrkB), modulates cognitive functions and mood, while contributing to neuronal metabolic adaptions to stress.

Our group showed that, in addition to influencing the nerves and vessels serving the heart, BDNF/TrkB signaling is required for normal cardiac contraction and relaxation in mice. Our new data suggest that myocardial BDNF production via cardiac β-adrenergic or TrkB stimulation is as important as the neuronal one to limit ischemic myocardial damage in mice. Moreover, the selective deletion of myocardial TrkB not only worsens pressure overload-induced heart failure (HF) but also impairs cognitive functions and mood under basal conditions.

Thus, perturbed cardiac BDNF/TrkB signal contributes to HF pathophysiology and negatively reverberates on central functions, including memory and mood maintenance. Thus, despite not being aware of BDNF, Casanova was absolutely right!