Background: Several cellular mechanisms have been proposed to explain the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease (HD), including the lack of striatal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Thus, by preferentially binding to tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) receptor, BDNF is an important neurotrophin implicated in striatal neuronal survival. Objective: To study the influence of BDNF and TrkB receptors in intracellular signaling pathways and caspase-3 activation in HD striatal cells. Methods: HD mutant knockin and wild-type striatal cells were transduced with preproBDNF or full-length TrkB receptors to analyze BDNF processing, AKT and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation and the activity of caspase-3 in the absence or presence of staurosporine (STS). Results: HD mutant cells transduced with preproBDNF-mCherry (mCh) expressed similar levels of pro- and mature BDNF compared to WT cells, but HD cells released lower levels of pro- and mature BDNF. Despite this, BDNF-mCh overexpression rescued decreased AKT phosphorylation and reduced the caspase-3 activation observed in HD cells. Activated ERK was also enhanced in HD BDNF-mCh/TrkB-eGFP receptor co-cultures. Of relevance, overexpression of TrkB-eGFP in HD cells decreased caspase-3 activation, and stimulation of TrkB-eGFP-transduced mutant cells with recombinant human BDNF reduced both basal and STS-induced caspase-3 activation. Conclusion: The results highlight the importance of BDNF-induced TrkB receptor signaling in rescuing HD-mediated apoptotic features in striatal cells.

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