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Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2014 Feb 13;6(1):18. doi: 10.1186/1758-5996-6-18.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, but not body weight, correlated with a reduction in depression scale scores in men with metabolic syndrome: a prospective weight-reduction study.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, No, 1650, Section 4, Taiwan Boulevard, Taichung 40705, Taiwan.



Obesity, a critical component of metabolic syndrome (MetS), is associated with depression. Deficiency of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is involved in the mechanism of depression. We hypothesized that weight reduction would improve depressive symptoms via increasing BDNF levels in obese men.


Male adults with obesity were enrolled in a weight-reduction program for twelve weeks. All subjects underwent daily caloric restriction and an exercise program which was regularly assessed in group classes. Fasting blood samples and Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (Zung SDS) scores were collected for assessments before and after the study.


A total of 36 subjects completed this program. The average reduction in body weight was 8.4 ± 5.1 kg (8.8 ± 5.1%, P < 0.001). Fasting serum BDNF significantly increased after the study (from 40.4 ± 7.8 to 46.9 ± 8.9 ng/ml, P < 0.001). However, the depression symptoms, as assessed by the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (Zung SDS), did not reduce significantly (P = 0.486). Divided into subgroups based on changes in BDNF, Zung SDS scores were significantly reduced in subjects with greater BDNF increase than in those with minor BDNF change (-3.9 ± 6.2 vs. 2.3 ± 6.7, P = 0.009). The increased percentage of BDNF was inversely correlated with the change in Zung SDS (r = -0.380, P = 0.022). Multivariate regression analysis showed that reduction in BDNF was independently associated with change in Zung SDS (95% confidence interval -0.315 to -0.052, P = 0.008).


Zung SDS only significantly improved in men with increased fasting BDNF levels after a lifestyle intervention.



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