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Mol Biol Rep. 2013 Sep;40(9):5483-90. doi: 10.1007/s11033-013-2648-6. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

BDNF and TNF-α polymorphisms in memory.

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  • 1Genomics Research Centre, Griffith Health Institute and School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, 4222, Australia.


Here, we investigate the genetic basis of human memory in healthy individuals and the potential role of two polymorphisms, previously implicated in memory function. We have explored aspects of retrospective and prospective memory including semantic, short term, working and long-term memory in conjunction with brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). The memory scores for healthy individuals in the population were obtained for each memory type and the population was genotyped via restriction fragment length polymorphism for the BDNF rs6265 (Val66Met) SNP and via pyrosequencing for the TNF-α rs113325588 SNP. Using univariate ANOVA, a significant association of the BDNF polymorphism with visual and spatial memory retention and a significant association of the TNF-α polymorphism was observed with spatial memory retention. In addition, a significant interactive effect between BDNF and TNF-α polymorphisms was observed in spatial memory retention. In practice visual memory involves spatial information and the two memory systems work together, however our data demonstrate that individuals with the Val/Val BDNF genotype have poorer visual memory but higher spatial memory retention, indicating a level of interaction between TNF-α and BDNF in spatial memory retention. This is the first study to use genetic analysis to determine the interaction between BDNF and TNF-α in relation to memory in normal adults and provides important information regarding the effect of genetic determinants and gene interactions on human memory.

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