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Front Neurosci. 2013 Oct 30;7:188. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00188.

Toward a unified biological hypothesis for the BDNF Val66Met-associated memory deficits in humans: a model of impaired dendritic mRNA trafficking.

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Department of Life Sciences, Brain Centre for Neurosciences, University of Trieste Trieste, Italy.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) represents promotesa key molecule for the survival and differentiation of specific populations of neurons in the central nervous system. BDNF also regulates plasticity-related processes underlying memory and learning. A common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs6265 has been identified on the coding sequence of human BDNF located at 11p13. The SNP rs6265 is a single base mutation with an adenine instead of a guanine at position 196 (G196A), resulting in the amino acid substitution Val66Met. This polymorphism only exists in humans and has been associated with a plethora of effects ranging from molecular, cellular and brain structural modifications in association with deficits in social and cognitive functions. To date, the literature on Val66Met polymorphism describes a complex and often conflicting pattern of effects. In this review, we attempt to provide a unifying model of the Val66Met effects. We discuss the clinical evidence of the association between Val66Met and memory deficits, as well as the molecular mechanisms involved including the reduced transport of BDNF mRNA to the dendrites as well as the reduced processing and secretion of BDNF protein through the regulated secretory pathway.


BDNF; dendritic mRNA trafficking; hippocampus atrophy; memory deficits; neurotrophins; post-traumatic stress disorder; regulated protein secretion

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