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Neuropsychobiology. 2012;65(3):147-52. doi: 10.1159/000335243. Epub 2012 Feb 25.

Long-term course of brain-derived neurotrophic factor serum levels in a patient treated with deep brain stimulation of the lateral habenula.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany.



According to the neurotrophin hypothesis, a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) decrease has been postulated as a pivotal pathomechanism in affective disorder, and the treatment-associated increase in peripheral BDNF has been linked to therapeutic efficacy of antidepressant drugs and electroconvulsive therapy. However, in deep brain stimulation (DBS), a still experimental antidepressant treatment approach, this issue has not yet been investigated.


We examine the long-term course of serum BDNF levels in a 64-year-old woman who is being treated with DBS of the lateral habenula for severe major depressive disorder.


Our main findings are a significant increase in BDNF serum levels following DBS of the lateral habenula and an inverse U-shaped correlation of depression scores and BDNF levels.


The data indicate that DBS, like other effective antidepressant treatments, may contribute to an increase in peripheral BDNF levels, which are thought to reflect central nervous DBS-induced neuroplastic changes. Moreover, our observations underscore the complex nature of disease-associated BDNF alterations. Their identification as either state or trait marker remains controversial and requires larger-scale longitudinal studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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