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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Aug 15;35(7):1623-30. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2011.06.013. Epub 2011 Jul 3.

Serum BDNF levels before treatment predict SSRI response in depression.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94143, United States. Owen.Wolkowitz@ucsf.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The "neurotrophin hypothesis" of depression posits a role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depression, although it is unknown whether BDNF is more involved in the etiology of depression or in the mechanism of action of antidepressants. It is also unknown whether pre-treatment serum BDNF levels predict antidepressant response.

METHODS:

Thirty un-medicated depressed subjects were treated with escitalopram (N=16) or sertraline (N=14) for 8 weeks. Twenty-five of the depressed subjects completed 8 weeks of antidepressant treatment and had analyzable data. Twenty-eight healthy controls were also studied. Serum for BDNF assay was obtained at baseline in all subjects and after 8 weeks of treatment in the depressed subjects. Depression ratings were obtained at baseline and after 8 weeks of treatment in the depressed subjects.

RESULTS:

Pre-treatment BDNF levels were lower in the depressed subjects than the controls (p=0.001) but were not significantly correlated with pre-treatment depression severity. Depression ratings improved with SSRI treatment (p<0.001), and BDNF levels increased with treatment (p=0.005). Changes in BDNF levels were not significantly correlated with changes in depression ratings. However, pre-treatment BDNF levels were directly correlated with antidepressant responses (p<0.01), and "Responders" to treatment (≥ 50% improvement in depression ratings) had higher pre-treatment BDNF levels than did "Non-responders" (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

These results confirm low serum BDNF levels in un-medicated depressed subjects and confirm antidepressant-induced increases in BDNF levels, but they suggest that antidepressants do not work simply by correcting BDNF insufficiency. Rather, these findings are consistent with a permissive or facilitatory role of BDNF in the mechanism of action of antidepressants.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21749907
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3159044
Free PMC Article

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