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CNS Spectr. 2008 Nov;13(11):945-9.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor: the neurotrophin hypothesis of psychopathology.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.


While monoaminergic hypotheses of psychopathology remain popular, there has been growing interest in the role of neurotrophins in neuropsychiatric disorders. Basic laboratory work has documented the importance of neurotrophins in neuronal survival and synaptic plasticity, and a range of clinical studies has provided analogous evidence of their role in neuropathology. Work on gene variants in brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and associated changes in structural and function brain imaging, have further contributed to our understanding of this area. Much remains to be done to delineate fully the relevant mechanisms by which brain-derived neurotrophic factor and other neurotrophins contribute to psychopathology, and to develop targeted therapeutic interventions. Nevertheless, the neurotrophin hypothesis has already given impetus to a range of valuable research.

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