Effects of escitalopram on serum BDNF levels in elderly patients with depression: A preliminary report

Antonio Martocchia, Martina Curto, Sergio Scaccianoce, Fabrizia Comite, Dionysios Xenos, Carla Nasca, Giulia Maria Falaschi, Stefano Ferracuti, Paolo Girardi, Ferdinando Nicoletti, Paolo Falaschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims Increasing evidence in the literature suggests a link between the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) system and adult depression, supporting a role in the pathophysiology of the disease and response to therapy. Few studies have reported BDNF serum levels in elderly depressed subjects and their relationship with antidepressant therapy. The aim of the study was to evaluate BDNF serum levels in naive elderly depressed patients, before and after antidepressant treatment.

Methods We enrolled n = 5 elderly naive patients affected by depression, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV Text Revision criteria for major depressive episode. BDNF serum levels were evaluated through ELISA method. Cognitive functions were examined by Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and severity of depression was assessed by Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). BDNF levels were measured at baseline (T0) and after 2 months (T2) of escitalopram. Ten healthy elderly subjects were enrolled as a control group.

Results The serum BDNF levels in patients (T0) and controls were 11.5 ± 0.6 and 13.6 ± 3.4 ng/ml (m ± SD), respectively. At T2, the patients showed a significant improvement of depressive symptoms (p <0.05), with a not significant increase of MMSE. The serum BDNF concentrations increased to 16.0 ± 2.7 ng/ml at T2 (p

Conclusions Serum BDNF levels may be considered as a marker of response to antidepressant treatment for depression in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-464
Number of pages4
JournalAging clinical and experimental research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 17 2014


  • Antidepressants
  • BDNF
  • Depression
  • Escitalopram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Medicine(all)


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