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FIGURE 1–9. Neurotrophic cascades.Cell survival is dependent on neurotrophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor, and the expression of these factors can be induced by synaptic activity. Phosphorylation of tyrosine receptor kinase (Trk) receptors activates a critical signaling pathway, the Ras/MAP kinase pathway (see Figure 1–15). Phosphorylated Trk receptors also recruit the phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) pathway through at least two distinct pathways, the relative importance of which differs between neuronal subpopulations. In many neurons, Ras-dependent activation of PI3K is the most important pathway through which neurotrophins promote cell survival (not shown; see text). In some cells, as shown in the figure, PI3K can also be directly activated through adaptor proteins (Shc, Grb-2, and Gab-1). PI3K directly regulates certain cytoplasmic apoptotic pathways. Akt phosphorylates the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member BAD (Bcl-xl/Bcl-2–associated death promoter), thereby inhibiting BAD's pro-apoptotic functions (Datta et al. 1997). Akt may also promote survival in an indirect fashion by regulating another major signaling enzyme: glycogen synthase kinase–3 (GSK-3) (Woodgett 2001). Interestingly, lithium is an inhibitor of GSK-3. Phosphorylated Trk receptors also recruit phospholipase C–1 (PLC-1). The Trk kinase then phosphorylates and activates PLC-1, which acts to hydrolyze phosphatidylinositides to generate diacylglycerol (DAG) and inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate (IP3). Antidepressant medication and mood stabilizers increase levels of BDNF and other neurotrophic factors, suggesting a therapeutic relevance.

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