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Pharmacol Rev. 2012 Apr;64(2):238-58. doi: 10.1124/pr.111.005108. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75390-9070, USA.


Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the most prevalent growth factor in the central nervous system (CNS). It is essential for the development of the CNS and for neuronal plasticity. Because BDNF plays a crucial role in development and plasticity of the brain, it is widely implicated in psychiatric diseases. This review provides a summary of clinical and preclinical evidence for the involvement of this ubiquitous growth factor in major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, addiction, Rett syndrome, as well as other psychiatric and neurodevelopmental diseases. In addition, the review includes a discussion of the role of BDNF in the mechanism of action of pharmacological therapies currently used to treat these diseases, such antidepressants and antipsychotics. The review also covers a critique of experimental therapies such as BDNF mimetics and discusses the value of BDNF as a target for future drug development.

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