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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2004 May;45(2):104-14.

Critical role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in mood disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.


The purpose of this review is to integrate what is currently known about the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the pathophysiology of mood disorders including major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). We reviewed the pre-clinical and clinical papers demonstrating that BDNF plays a role in the pathophysiology of mood disorders and in the mechanism of action of therapeutic agents. Pre-clinical studies suggest that the expression of BDNF might be a downstream target of antidepressant treatments and mood stabilizers such as lithium and valproate, and that BDNF exerts antidepressant activity in animal models of depression. Furthermore, BDNF protects against stress-induced neuronal damage, and it might affect neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of mood disorders. Clinical studies have demonstrated that serum levels of BDNF in drug-naive patients with MDD are significantly decreased as compared with normal controls, and that BDNF might be an important agent for therapeutic recovery from MDD. Moreover, recent findings from family-based association studies have suggested that the BDNF gene is a potential risk locus for the development of BD. These findings suggest that BDNF plays a critical role in the pathophysiology of mood disorders and in the activity of therapeutic agents in patients with mood disorders. New agents capable of enhancing BDNF levels may lead aid the development of novel therapeutic drugs for patients with mood disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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