BDNF serum levels, but not BDNF Val66Met genotype, are correlated with personality traits in healthy subjects

Alessandra Minelli, Roberta Zanardini, Cristian Bonvicini, Riccardo Sartori, Laura Pedrini, Massimo Gennarelli, Luisella Bocchio-Chiavetto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Consisting evidence in animal models has suggested that alterations in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) brain expression and release are involved in the pathogenesis of mental illnesses, such as, mood, anxiety, and eating disorders. This hypothesis is supported by data emerging from biochemical studies on serum BDNF levels and genetic studies on the functional polymorphism Val66Met in the BDNF gene in patients and control subjects. Anxiety-related personality traits are associated with several mental disorders. However, they are also measurable in non-affected subjects and, so, may represent a useful "endophenotype" to study the biological correlation of the vulnerability factors in the general population. In this study, we analyzed putative correlations in subjects unaffected by mental disorders between personality traits, serum BDNF levels (N = 107), and the BDNF Val66Met genotype (N = 217). Furthermore, we tested the possible interactions between these variables. A significant correlation has been observed between high scores of harm avoidance (HA) measured by the temperament and character inventory (TCI), and low BDNF serum concentration (r = -0.253, P = 0.009). In addition, an association has been evidenced between low BDNF levels in serum and the BDNF Val/Val genotype (P = 0.021). By analyzing putative concomitant effects of different variables on HA scores in a regression model, we observed a significant correlation only with BDNF serum concentrations (P = 0.022). The study results suggest that a decrease in serum BDNF concentrations may represent a biochemical marker associated with anxiety personality traits also retrievable in the general population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Volume261
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011

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Keywords

  • BDNF
  • Depression
  • Harm Avoidance
  • Healthy volunteers
  • Temperament and character inventory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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