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World J Psychiatry. 2016 Mar 22;6(1):84-101. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v6.i1.84. eCollection 2016 Mar 22.

Are the changes in the peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels due to platelet activation?

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Montserrat Serra-Millàs, Osona Mental Health, Hospital Universitari de Vic, Salut Mental i Innovació Social (SaMIS), Universitat de Vic-Universitat Central de Catalunya, 08500 Vic, Barcelona, Spain.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in central nervous system development, neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity. BDNF is also expressed in several non-neuronal tissues, and it could play an important role in other processes, such as cancer, angiogenesis, etc. Platelets are the major source of peripheral BDNF. However, platelets also contain high amounts of serotonin; they express specific surface receptors during activation, and a multitude of pro-inflammatory and immunomodulatory bioactive compounds are secreted from the granules. Until recently, there was insufficient knowledge regarding the relationship between BDNF and platelets. Recent studies showed that BDNF is present in two distinct pools in platelets, in α-granules and in the cytoplasm, and only the BDNF in the granules is secreted following stimulation, representing 30% of the total BDNF in platelets. BDNF has an important role in the pathophysiology of depression. Low levels of serum BDNF have been described in patients with major depressive disorder, and BDNF levels increased with chronic antidepressant treatment. Interestingly, there is an association between depression and platelet function. This review analyzed studies that evaluated the relationship between BDNF and platelet activation and the effect of treatments on both parameters. Only a few studies consider this possible confounding factor, and it could be very important in diseases such as depression, which show changes in both parameters.


Antidepressants; Biomarkers; Brain derived neurotrophic factor; Depression; Platelets

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