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Translational findings on brain-derived neurotrophic factor and anxiety: Contributions from basic research to clinical practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Anna Claudia Domingos Da Silveira Da Luz, Pereira Gisele Dias, Mário Cesar Do Nascimento Bevilaqua, Graham Cocks, Patricia Franca Gardino, Sandrine Thuret, Antonio Egidio Nardi

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

King's Authors


Background/Aims: Anxious responses are evolutionarily adaptive, but excessive fear can become disabling and lead to anxiety disorders. Translational models of anxiety might be useful sources for understanding the neurobiology of fear and anxiety and can contribute to future proposals of therapeutic intervention for the disorders studied. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is known for its importance on neuroplasticity and contextual memory, has emerged as a relevant element for emotional memory. Recent studies show that the Val66Met BDNF polymorphism correlates with various psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, but there are several differences between experimental and clinical studies. Methods: In this work, we review the literature focused on the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and anxiety, and discuss biological findings from animal models to clinical studies. Results: As occurs with other psychiatric disorders, anxiety correlates with anatomical, behavioral and physiological changes related to the BDNF polymorphism. In animal studies, it has been shown that a significant decrease in regulated secretion from both BDNFVal/Met and BDNFMet/Met neurons represented a significant decrease in available BDNF. Conclusion: These studies suggest that developing pharmacological strategies facilitating the release of BDNF from synapses or prolongation of the half-life of secreted BDNF may improve the therapeutic responses of humans expressing the BDNF polymorphism.

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