BDNF serum levels in subjects developing or not post-traumatic stress disorder after trauma exposure

Francesco Angelucci, Valerio Ricci, Francesca Gelfo, Giovanni Martinotti, Marcella Brunetti, Gianna Sepede, Maria Signorelli, Eugenio Aguglia, Mauro Pettorruso, Federica Vellante, Massimo Di Giannantonio, Carlo Caltagirone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a syndrome resulting from exposure to a severe traumatic event that poses threatened death or injury and produces intense fear and helplessness. The neural structures implicated in PTSD development belong to the limbic system, an important region for emotional processing. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotrophin that serves as survival factor for selected populations of central nervous system (CNS) neurons and plays a role in the limbic system by regulating synaptic plasticity, memory processes and behavior. Impaired BDNF production in the brain can lead to a variety of CNS dysfunctions including symptoms associated with PTSD. However, so far fewer studies have investigated this neurotrophin in patients with PTSD. Furthermore, given the multiple role of BDNF in various CNS disorders, it cannot be excluded that traumatic events per se may influence neurotrophin levels, without a direct association to the PTSD syndrome.To elucidate these issues, in this study we analyzed BDNF serum levels in two groups of subjects: patients with trauma exposure who developed PTSD, and subjects with trauma exposure who did not develop PTSD. We found that BDNF serum levels were lower in PTSD patients as compared to related control subjects. Thus, these data suggest that BDNF might be involved in pathophysiology of PTSD and consequently therapeutic approaches aimed at restoring BDNF serum levels may be beneficial to this pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-122
Number of pages5
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • BDNF
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Trauma exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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