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Brain Res Bull. 2011 Nov 25;86(5-6):287-97. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2011.08.019. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Effects of BDNF polymorphisms on brain function and behavior in health and disease.

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Department of Psychiatry, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), the most abundant neurotrophin in the brain, serves an important role during brain development and in synaptic plasticity. Given its pleiotropic effects in the central nervous system, BDNF has been implicated in cognitive function and personality development as well as the pathogenesis of various psychiatric disorders. Thus, BDNF is considered an attractive candidate gene for the study of healthy and diseased brain function and behaviors. Over the past decade, many studies have tested BDNF genetic association, particularly its functional Val66Met polymorphism, with psychiatric diseases, personality disorders, and cognitive function. Although many reports indicated a possible role for BDNF genetic effects in mental problems or brain function, other reports were unable to replicate the findings. The conflicting results in BDNF genetic studies may result from confounding factors such as age, gender, other environmental factors, sample size, ethnicity and phenotype assessment. Future studies with more homogenous populations, well-controlled confounding factors, and well-defined phenotypes are needed to clarify the BDNF genetic effects on mental diseases and human behaviors.

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