Longitudinal multi-level biomarker analysis of BDNF in major depression and bipolar disorder

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Preliminary evidence suggests that BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) rs6265 genetic polymorphism, BDNF gene promotor methylation and BDNF serum levels might play an important role in the pathogenesis of affective disorders. As studies testing the BDNF system across molecular levels are sparse, this study aimed at investigating the BDNF val66met genotype, BDNF DNA methylation changes and peripheral BDNF serum levels in acute and remitted phases of MDD (major depressive disorder) and BD (bipolar disorder) and healthy controls. We found a significant difference of methylation levels at CpG site 1-1-1 and 3-1-1 between MDD and healthy controls (p < 0.003) with MDD patients showing significantly higher methylation levels. CpG 5-2-1 revealed a statistically significant difference between MDD and healthy controls and MDD and BD (p = 0.00003). Similar to the results of the methylation analysis a significant difference between MDD and healthy controls was found in BDNF serum levels (p = 0.002) with significantly lower BDNF serum levels in MDD compared to healthy controls. A difference between the samples from admission and discharge from hospital of both BDNF gene methylation and serum levels could not be detected in the present study and no influence of the BDNF val66met genotype on neither methylation nor BDNF serum level.

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We thank Joyce Auer, Sabine Stanzel and Theresia Töpner for their excellent technical support and we thank all the patients and controls for participating in this study.

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Correspondence to Sarah Kittel-Schneider.

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The authors have no conflict of interest to declare regarding the present study.

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Schröter, K., Brum, M., Brunkhorst-Kanaan, N. et al. Longitudinal multi-level biomarker analysis of BDNF in major depression and bipolar disorder. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci (2019).

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  • BDNF
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depression
  • Fluid biomarker
  • Risk gene