Journal of Neurology

, Volume 257, Issue 4, pp 540–545 | Cite as

Serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor correlate with motor impairment in Parkinson’s disease

  • Paula Scalzo
  • Arthur Kümmer
  • Thales Lage Bretas
  • Francisco Cardoso
  • Antônio Lúcio TeixeiraEmail author
Original Communication


The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis-mediated cell death and neurotoxin-induced degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. There is a growing body of evidence implicating BDNF in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD), suggesting it may eventually be used in the development of neuroprotective therapies for PD. The serum BDNF of 47 PD patients and of 23 control subjects was assessed, and serum BNDF levels were significantly decreased in PD patients when compared with controls (p = 0.046). Interestingly enough, BDNF correlated positively with a longer time span of the disease, as well as with the severity of the PD symptoms and with more advanced stages of the disease. Additionally, higher BDNF levels also correlated with poor balance as assessed by the Berg Balance Scale, more time spent at the Timed Up & Go Test, reduced speed of gait and shorter distance walked during the Six-Minute Walk Test. Our results corroborate the literature regarding the involvement of BDNF in PD. We hypothesize that lower BDNF levels in early stages of the disease may be associated with pathogenic mechanisms of PD. The increase of BDNF levels with the progression of the disease may be a compensatory mechanism in more advanced stages of PD.


Parkinson’s disease Brain-derived neurotrophic factor Neurotrophins Neurodegeneration Depression Motor impairment 



This work was supported by Rede Instituto Brasileiro de Neurociência (IBN Net/Finep), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (Fapemig), Brazil.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Scalzo
    • 1
  • Arthur Kümmer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thales Lage Bretas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francisco Cardoso
    • 3
  • Antônio Lúcio Teixeira
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Immunopharmacology, Institute of Biological SciencesFederal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)Belo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Neuropsychiatric Branch, Department of Internal MedicineSchool of Medicine, UFMGBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Movement Disorders ClinicGeneral Hospital, UFMGBelo HorizonteBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Imunofarmacologia, Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia (ICB)Universidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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