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Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2009 Dec 5;150B(8):1050-62. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.30930.

The role of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) val66met variant in the phenotypic expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

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Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Evidence suggests that the Val66Met variant of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene may play a role in the etiology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In this study, the role of the BDNF Val66Met variant in the etiology and the phenotypic expression of OCD is investigated. Associations between the BDNF Val66Met variant and OCD, obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions, Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) severity scores, age of onset and family history of obsessive-compulsive symptoms were assessed. The BDNF Val66Met variant was genotyped in 419 patients with sub-/clinical OCD and 650 controls. No differences in allele or genotype frequency were observed between cases and controls. In females with OCD, the Met66Met genotype was associated with later age of onset and a trend for a negative family history, whereas the Val66Val genotype was associated with a trend for lower YBOCS severity scores. Item-level factor analysis revealed six factors: 1) Contamination/cleaning; 2) Aggressive obsessions/checking; 3) Symmetry obsessions, counting, ordering and repeating; 4) Sexual/religious obsessions; 5) Hoarding and 6) Somatic obsessions/checking. A trend was found for a positive association between Factor 4 (Sexual/religious obsessions) and the BDNF Val66Val genotype. The results suggest that BDNF function may be implicated in the mediation of OCD. We found that for the BDNF Met66Met genotype may be associated with a milder phenotype in females and a possible role for the BDNF Val66Val genotype and the BDNF Val66 allele in the sexual/religious obsessions.

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