Association between serum BDNF levels and maternal perinatal depression: A review

G. M. Mandolini, M. Lazzaretti, G. Delvecchio, C. Bressi, J. C. Soares, P. Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: A large amount of studies demonstrated reduced serum Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels in stress-related and depressive disorders. However, it is still unclear if a similar deficit in BDNF concentrations might also characterize maternal perinatal depression. Methods: We performed a bibliographic search on PUBMED of all the studies investigating the association between maternal BDNF levels and perinatal depression. The inclusion criteria were met by thirteen studies. Results: Overall, the majority of the studies reported a significant reduction in serum BDNF levels among depressed mothers compared to healthy mothers either during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. Moreover, some studies also demonstrated that the BDNF reduction could be more evident in those depressed mothers with perinatal stressful life events and suicide risk. Limitations: BDNF were collected at different time points across the studies. Potential confounding factors, including the clinical characteristics of the samples employed by the original studies, might have influenced the results. Conclusions: So far, the evidences suggested the presence of decreased BDNF concentrations in perinatal depressive disorders. However, further studies are needed in order to confirm the role of BDNF in this disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-276
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Biomarkers
  • Perinatal depression
  • Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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