Serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
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There is evidence that major psychiatric discords such as schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD) are associated with dysregulation of synaptic plasticity with downstream alterations of neurotrophins. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the most widely distributed neurotrophin in the central nervous system (CNS), and performs many biological functions such as promoting the survival, differentiation, and plasticity of neurons. Variants in the BDNF gene increase the risk of SZ and bipolar disorder. Chronic administration of drugs used to treat SZ and BD, such as lithium, valproate, quetiapine, clozapine, and olanzapine, increases BDNF expression in rat brain. To examine serum BDNF, three groups of chronically medicated DSM-IV SZ patients, on treatment with clozapine (n=27), typical (n=14), and other atypical antipsychotics (n=19), 30 euthymic BD patients, and 26 healthy control had 5 ml blood samples collected by venipuncture. Serum BDNF levels were significantly higher in SZ patients (p<0.001) when compared to either controls or euthymic BD patients. Increased BDNF in SZ patients might be related to the course of illness or to treatment variables. Prospective studies are warranted.