Translational Stroke Research

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 342–351 | Cite as

The Serum BDNF Level Offers Minimum Predictive Value for Motor Function Recovery After Stroke

  • Wenshu Luo
  • Tao Liu
  • Shanshan Li
  • Hongmei Wen
  • Fenghua Zhou
  • Ross Zafonte
  • Xun Luo
  • Minghzu Xu
  • Randie Black-Schaffer
  • Lisa J. Wood
  • Yulong WangEmail author
  • Qing Mei WangEmail author
Original Article


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis following ischemic and non-ischemic brain injury. The predictive value of BDNF for short-term outcome after stroke is controversial. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship among serum BDNF level, fractional anisotropy (FA), and functional outcome during post-acute stroke rehabilitation. Serum BDNF levels were measured on admission to an acute inpatient rehabilitation hospital. The primary functional outcome was functional independence measure (FIM) motor subscore at discharge. The secondary outcome measures were FIM total score at discharge, FIM motor subscore on admission, length of stay in the hospital, and discharge destination. We investigated the relationship among the level of serum BDNF and FA as well as functional outcome measures. Three hundred forty-eight consecutive stroke subjects were included in the analysis. Serum BDNF levels on admission were statistically but not clinically correlated with FIM motor subscore at discharge (r = 0.173, P = 0.001) and FIM total score at discharge (r = 0.155, P = 0.004). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis of BDNF as a predictor for FIM motor subscore improvement showed low accuracy of prediction with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.581 (P = 0.026). Serum BDNF significantly correlated with FA in the high FIM motor group (n = 10, r = 0.609, P = 0.031) but not in the low FIM motor group (n = 11, r = − 0.132, P = 0.349). The serum BDNF level alone offers minimum predictive value for recovery of motor function during post-acute rehabilitation. Our findings suggest that serum BDNF level may be correlated with FA.


Stroke rehabilitation BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) FIM (functional independence measure) FA (fractional anisotropy) 



This study was supported by the Harvard Catalyst/The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health award no. UL1 TR001102); Harvard University and its affiliated academic health care centers; and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant no. 12ykpy39). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University and its affiliated academic health care centers, or the National Institutes of Health.

This study was also supported by Shenzhen “Sanming project” (SZSM201610039).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, the teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stroke Biological Recovery Laboratory, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospitalthe teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical SchoolCharlestownUSA
  2. 2.Department of Acupuncture and MoxibustionShenzhen Traditional Chinese Medicine HospitalShenzhenChina
  3. 3.Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory for Interventional Medical DevicesHuaiyin Institute of TechnologyHuai’anChina
  4. 4.Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, New Jersey Medical School, RutgersThe State University of New JerseyNewarkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The Third Affiliated HospitalSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  6. 6.Department of Physical medicine and Rehabilitation, Shengjing HospitalChina Medical UniversityShenyangChina
  7. 7.Departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School/Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Network, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  8. 8.Kerry Rehabilitation Medicine Research InstituteShenzhenChina
  9. 9.Shenzhen Sanming Project Group, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospitalthe teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical SchoolCharlestownUSA
  10. 10.School of Nursing, MGH Institute of Health ProfessionsCharlestownUSA
  11. 11.The First Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen UniversityShenzhen Second People’s HospitalShenzhenChina

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