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A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical studies on major depression and BDNF levels: implications for the role of neuroplasticity in depression.

The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology

Young Adult, Quality Control, physiology, Neuronal Plasticity, Middle Aged, Male, Humans, Female, psychology, metabolism, genetics, Depressive Disorder, Major, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Aged, Adult, Adolescent

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      Abstract

      Several clinical studies on major depressive disorder (MDD) have shown that blood brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) - a factor used to index neuroplasticity - is associated with depression response; however, the results are mixed. The purpose of our study was to evaluate whether BDNF levels are correlated with improvement of depression. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature, searching Medline, Cochrane Central, SciELO databases and reference lists from retrieved articles for clinical studies comparing mean BDNF blood levels in depressed patients pre- and post-antidepressant treatments or comparing depressed patients with healthy controls. Two reviewers independently searched for eligible studies and extracted outcome data using a structured form previously elaborated. Twenty articles, including 1504 subjects, met our inclusion criteria. The results showed that BDNF levels increased significantly after antidepressant treatment (effect size 0.62, 95% CI 0.36-0.88, random effects model). In addition, there was a significant correlation between changes in BDNF level and depression scores changes (p=0.02). Moreover, the results were robust according to the sensitivity analysis and Begg's funnel plot results did not suggest publication bias. Finally, there was a difference between pre-treatment patients and healthy controls (effect size 0.91, 95% CI 0.70-1.11) and a small but significant difference between treated patients and healthy controls (effect size 0.34, 95% CI 0.02-0.66). Our results show that BDNF levels are associated with clinical changes in depression; supporting the notion that depression improvement is associated with neuroplastic changes.

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      10.1017/S1461145708009309
      18752720

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