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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39212. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039212. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels predict the clinical outcome of depression treatment in a naturalistic study.

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Sato Hospital, Koutokukai, Nanyo, Yamagata, Japan.


Remission is the primary goal of treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). However, some patients do not respond to treatment. The main purpose of this study was to determine whether brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels are correlated with treatment outcomes. In a naturalistic study, we assessed whether plasma BDNF levels were correlated with clinical outcomes by measuring plasma BDNF in patients with depressive syndrome (MADRS score ≥ 18), and subsequently comparing levels between the subgroup of patients who underwent remission (MADRS score ≤ 8) and the subgroup who were refractory to treatment (non-responders). Patients with depressive syndrome who underwent remission had significantly higher plasma BDNF levels (p<0.001), regardless of age or sex. We also found a significant negative correlation between MADRS scores and plasma BDNF levels within this group (ρ = -0.287, p = 0.003). In contrast, non-responders had significantly lower plasma BDNF levels (p = 0.029). Interestingly, plasma BDNF levels in the non-responder group were significantly higher than those in the remission group in the initial stage of depressive syndrome (p = 0.002). Our results show that plasma BDNF levels are associated with clinical outcomes during the treatment of depression. We suggest that plasma BDNF could potentially serve as a prognostic biomarker for depression, predicting clinical outcome.


UMIN Clinical Trials Registry UMIN000006264.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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