Serum BDNF levels in unaffected first-degree relatives of patients with bipolar disorder
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OBJECTIVE: Unaffected relatives of bipolar disorder (BD) patients have been investigated for the identification of endophenotypes in an attempt to further elucidate the pathophysiology of the disease. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is considered to be implicated in the pathophysiology of BD, but its role as an endophenotype has been poorly studied. We investigated abnormal serum BDNF levels in BD patients, in their unaffected relatives, and in healthy controls. METHODS: BDNF levels were obtained from 25 DSM-IV bipolar I disorder patients, 23 unaffected relatives, and 27 healthy controls. All BD patients were in remission. The unaffected subjects were first-degree relatives of the proband who had no lifetime DSM-IV diagnosis of axis I disorder. BDNF serum levels were determined by sandwich ELISA using monoclonal BDNF-specific antibodies. RESULTS: There were no statistical differences in BDNF levels among BD patients, relatives, and healthy controls. CONCLUSION: Serum BDNF levels may not indicate high genetic risk for BD, possibly acting as state markers rather than trait markers of the disease.
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