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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor association with amygdala response in major depressive disorder

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Valentina Lorenzetti, Sergi G. Costafreda, Rachael M. Rimmer, Mark M. Rasenick, Lauren B. Marangell, Cynthia H.Y. Fu

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-106
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020

King's Authors


Background: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has an essential role in synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis. BDNF mediates amygdala-dependent learning for both aversive and appetitive emotional memories. The expression of BDNF in limbic regions is posited to contribute the development of depression, and amygdala responsivity is a potential marker of depressive state. Methods: The present study examined the relationship between platelet BDNF levels and amygdala volume and function in major depressive disorder (MDD). Participants were 23 MDD (mean age 38.9 years) and 23 healthy controls (mean age 38.8 years). All participants were recruited from the community. MDD participants were in a current depressive episode of moderate severity and medication-free. Amygdala responses were acquired during a functional MRI task of implicit emotional processing with sad facial expressions. Results: Significant correlation was observed between platelet BDNF levels and left amygdala responses, but no significant correlations were found with right amygdala responses or with amygdala volumes. Limitations: Interactions with neuroprotective as well as neurotoxic metabolites in the kyneurenine pathway were not examined. Conclusions: Relationship between BDNF levels and amygdala responsivity to emotionally salient stimuli in MDD could reflect the importance of BDNF in amygdala-dependent learning with clinical implications for potential pathways for treatment.

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