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J Biol Rhythms. 2017 Feb;32(1):75-82. doi: 10.1177/0748730417693124. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

Circadian Rhythms in Plasma Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor Differ in Men and Women.

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Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Department of Medicine and Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
School of Psychological Sciences and Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA.
Center for Human Genetic Research and Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Medical and Population Genetics, Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


The measurement of circulating levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been proposed to be a marker of disease and an indicator of recovery. Thus, knowing the temporal pattern and influence of potential circadian rhythms is important. Although several studies have measured BDNF at different times of day, no studies have done so while controlling for potential masking influences such as sleep and activity. Further, no previous study has examined circadian rhythms within individuals. We examined circadian rhythms in plasma BDNF while minimizing masking from behavioral and environmental factors using a 30-h constant routine (CR) protocol. In a sample of 39 healthy adults, we found significant circadian rhythms in 75% of women and 52% of men. The timing of the acrophase of the BDNF rhythm, however, was unrelated to clock time in women, while it was related to clock time in men. These results indicate that the use of single-sample measures of plasma BDNF as a marker of disease will be unreliable, especially in women. Repeated plasma BDNF samples over a 24-h period within individuals would be needed to reveal abnormalities related to disease states.


Val66Met; brain derived neurotrophic factor; circadian; constant routine; sex differences

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