Diurnal Variation of Plasma Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Levels in Women with Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea

Panagiotis Drakopoulos, Elena Casarosa, Fiorella Bucci, Manuela Piccinino, Jean Marie Wenger, Rossella Elena Nappi, Nicholas Polyzos, Andrea Riccardo Genazzani, Nicola Pluchino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is strongly related to hormonal networks and is modulated by hypothalamic activity. Objective: To evaluate plasma BDNF concentration in patients with functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA), with reference to the BDNF circadian rhythm and its relation with the cortisol (F) rhythm, and to assess whether the duration of amenorrhea might influence the BDNF:F ratio in FHA. Design: This was an observational study evaluating 36 amenorrheic and 30 eumenorrheic women. Setting: Basal values of BDNF and hormones were examined in blood samples collected from 7:00 to 9:00 h in all the women. Basal BDNF and F levels were determined in blood samples collected in 12 subjects from each group at 8:00, 12:00, 16:00, 20:00, and 24:00 h. Results: BDNF plasma levels are significantly lower in amenorrheic women (p <0.001) than in the follicular phase of eumenorrheic women. There are no correlations between BDNF values (p > 0.05), sex steroids, and F in FHA. Low plasma BDNF levels in FHA are not significantly correlated with duration of amenorrhea. The 24-hour variation of BDNF in amenorrheic women is significantly lower when compared to the control group, and normal daily variations of BDNF disappeared in FHA patients. F preserved its circadian rhythm in both groups. Conclusions: Interactions between BDNF, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, and sex steroids might be critical in clinical conditions of modified homeostasis/adaptation, such as FHA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-262
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 23 2015


  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Cortisol
  • Daily variation
  • Hypothalamic amenorrhea
  • Sex hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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