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Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in patients with panic disorder: as a biological predictor of response to group cognitive behavioral therapy.

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Department of Psychiatry (K2), Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuou-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.


Little is known about biological predictors of treatment response in panic disorder. Our previous studies show that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) may play a role in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorders and eating disorders. Assuming that BDNF may be implicated in the putative common etiologies of depression and anxiety, the authors examined serum BDNF levels of the patients with panic disorder, and its correlation with therapeutic response to group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Group CBT (10 consecutive 1 h weekly sessions) was administered to the patients with panic disorder after consulting the panic outpatient special service. Before treatment, serum concentrations of BDNF and total cholesterol were measured. After treatment, we defined response to therapy as a 40% reduction from baseline on Panic Disorder Severity Scale (PDSS) score as described by [Barlow, D.H., Gorman, J.M., Shear, M.K., Woods, S.W., 2000. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, imipramine, or their combination for panic disorder: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 283, 2529-2536]. There were 26 good responders and 16 poor responders. 31 age- and sex-matched healthy normal control subjects were also recruited in this study. The serum BDNF levels of the patients with poor response (25.9 ng/ml [S.D. 8.7]) were significantly lower than those of the patients with good response (33.7 ng/ml [S.D. 7.5]). However, there were no significant differences in both groups of the patients, compared to the normal controls (29.1 ng/ml [S.D. 7.1]). No significant differences of other variables including total cholesterol levels before treatment were detected between good responders and poor responders. These results suggested that BDNF might contribute to therapeutic response of panic disorder. A potential link between an increased risk of secondary depression and BDNF remains to be investigated in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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