Neurotrophins and Psychiatric Disorders

  • E. CastrénEmail author
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 220)


Increasing number of studies has during the last decade linked neurotrophic factors with the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders and with the mechanisms of action of drugs used for the treatment of these disorders. In particular, brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF and its receptor TrkB have been connected with the pathophysiology in mood disorders, and there is strong evidence that BDNF signaling is critically involved in the recovery from depression with both pharmacological and psychological means. Neurotrophins play a central role in neuronal plasticity and network connectivity in developing adult brain, and recent evidence links plasticity and network rewiring with mood disorders and their treatment. Therefore, neurotrophins should not be seen as happiness factors but as critical tools in the process where brain networks are optimally tuned to environment, and it is against this background that the effects of neurotrophins on neuropsychiatric disorders should be looked at.


BDNF TrkB Mood disorders Depression Anxiety Schizophrenia Antidepressant drugs 



I would like to thank Drs. Olivia O’Leary and Tomi Rantamäki and all the members of my lab for their help in the preparation of this manuscript. This manuscript was prepared during a sabbatical at the lab of René Hen at Columbia University. I would like to thank René and all his lab members for enjoyable scientific and social interaction. My work is supported by Sigrid Jusélius Foundation, Academy of Finland Center for Excellence Program, Senior Investigator Grant from the Academy of Finland and Schaefer Scholarship by Columbia University. I am an advisor and shareholder of Hermo Pharma.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroscience CenterUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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