Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor in patients with trauma psychopathology
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OBJECTIVE: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has an important role in learning, motivation and regulation of mood. The aim of this study was to investigate levels of serum BDNF in patients with trauma psychopathology (acute and post-traumatic stress disorder) when compared to age and gender matched controls. METHOD: A consecutive sample of 34 patients was evaluated regarding socio-demographic and clinical variables by means of a standard protocol, Davidson Trauma Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, Clinical Global Impression and the Global Assessment of Functioning. BDNF serum levels were measured right after the intake interview. RESULTS: Patients had higher BDNF levels than controls. Those levels, however, were higher right after the traumatic event, decreasing over time. When two groups of patients (recent and remote trauma) were investigated in separate, the recent trauma group (less than 1year since the traumatic event) had higher BDNF than controls, but this effect was not detected in the remote trauma group. The recent and remote trauma groups had different BDNF levels. Those findings persisted, even controlling for symptom severity, use of psychotropic medication, and history of psychiatric disease. CONCLUSIONS: As far as we know this is the first report of elevated serum BDNF levels in patients with recent trauma. Based in animal models that implicate BDNF in memory formation and consolidation, higher BDNF in recent PTSD could be related to memory and learning disruption central in PTSD psychopathology.
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