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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plasma levels in drug-naïve OCD patients are lower than those in healthy people, but are not lower than those in drug-treated OCD patients.

Journal of Affective Disorders

genetics, Young Adult, blood, physiology, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Case-Control Studies, Depression, Female, Genotype, Humans, Male, Nerve Growth Factors, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, drug therapy, Adolescent, Adult

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      Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in neural development, and has been implicated in the development of depressive and anxiety disorders. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic anxiety disorder with an unclear pathophysiology. Although genetic studies have suggested an association between BDNF and OCD, the results have been inconsistent. The aims of this study were to determine whether BDNF plasma levels in OCD patients are lower than those in healthy controls and whether BDNF plasma levels differ between drug-naïve and drug-treated OCD patients. We examined BDNF plasma levels in 22 drug-naïve OCD patients, 52 drug-treated OCD patients, and 63 healthy controls. Individuals in all groups with a current or lifetime history of depression were excluded. BDNF plasma levels in both drug-naïve OCD patients (1.97 ± 1.80 ng/ml, p=0.00) and drug-treated OCD patients (1.98 ± 1.54 ng/ml, p=0.00) were lower than those in normal controls (4.09 ± 2.00 ng/ml). However BDNF plasma levels in those two OCD patients groups were not different from each other significantly (p=0.99). Length of drug treatment was positively associated with BDNF plasma levels in the drug-treated patients (r=0.34, p=0.03). We used treatment length of two weeks and above as the criterion to recruit drug-treated patients. Probably this treatment length is not sufficient to identify drug-associated changes in BDNF levels. Our findings support the hypothesis that BDNF is involved in the pathophysiology of OCD, and may be a peripheral marker indicating neurotrophic impairment in OCD. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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