Cognitive and serum BDNF correlates of BDNF Val66Met gene polymorphism in patients with schizophrenia and normal controls
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Studies suggest that a functional polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF Val66Met) may mediate hippocampal-dependent cognitive functions. A few studies have reported its role in cognitive deficits in schizophrenia including its association with peripheral BDNF levels as a mediator of these cognitive deficits. We assessed 657 schizophrenic inpatients and 445 healthy controls on the repeatable battery for the assessment of neuropsychological status (RBANS), the presence of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and serum BDNF levels. We assessed patient psychopathology using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. We showed that visuospatial/constructional abilities significantly differed by genotype but not genotype × diagnosis, and the Val allele was associated with better visuospatial/constructional performance in both schizophrenic patients and healthy controls. Attention performance showed a significant genotype by diagnosis effect. Met allele-associated attention impairment was specific to schizophrenic patients and not shown in healthy controls. In the patient group, partial correlation analysis showed a significant positive correlation between serum BDNF and the RBANS total score. Furthermore, the RBANS total score showed a statistically significant BDNF level × genotype interaction. We demonstrated an association between the BDNF Met variant and poor visuospatial/constructional performance. Furthermore, the BDNF Met variant may be specific to attentional decrements in schizophrenic patients. The association between decreased BDNF serum levels and cognitive impairment in schizophrenia is dependent on the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism.