Brain-derived neurotrophic factor activation of TrkB protects neuroblastoma cells from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis via phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase pathway

Jerry Jaboin, Chong Jai Kim, David R. Kaplan, Carol J. Thiele

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156 Scopus citations


Neuroblastoma (NB) tumors expressing high levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and TrkB are associated with poor 5-year survival outcomes. Our previous studies indicated that BDNF blocked the cytotoxic effects of vinblastine on NB cells. Here we evaluated the ability of BDNF to decrease the chemosensitivity of NB cells to a number of common chemotherapeutic agents. Two SH-SY5Y NB cell lines (TB3 and TB8) expressing TrkB under the control of a tetracycline (Tet)- repressible promoter element were generated, and used to assess apoptosis resulting from treatment with cisplatin, doxorubicin, etoposide, and vinblastine. BDNF treatment of high TrkB-expressing TB8 (Tet-) and TB3 (Tet-) cells blocked drug-induced cell death in a dose-dependent manner. Only high-dose BDNF (100 ng/ml) could block the effects of chemotherapy in low TrkB-expressing cells. The ability of BDNF to rescue the cells from chemotherapeutic agent-induced cell death was inhibited by treatment with the Trk tyrosine kinase inhibitor K252a or the phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002, but not by the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor PD98059 or the peritoneal lymphocyte γ inhibitor U73122, indicating that both TrkB and PI3K activities are required for the survival-promoting effects of BDNF. BDNF also protected TrkB-expressing NGP and KCNR NB cells from chemotherapeutic agent-induced cell death, and LY294002 inhibited this protection. These results suggest that TrkB and BDNF can contribute to the chemoresistance of poor prognosis tumors, and that suppression of PI3K activity might improve the ability of these agents to induce the death of NB tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6756-6763
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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