Interplay between childhood trauma and BDNF val66met variants on blood BDNF mRNA levels and on hippocampus subfields volumes in schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorders

Monica Aas, Unn K. Haukvik, Srdjan Djurovic, Martin Tesli, Lavinia Athanasiu, Thomas Bjella, Lars Hansson, Annamaria Cattaneo, Ingrid Agartz, Ole A. Andreassen, Ingrid Melle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Here we investigated a two hit gene environment model in relation to functional genomic factors (BDNF mRNA), and volume of hippocampal subfields in schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorders, focusing on both an environmental (childhood trauma) and genetic risk factor (BDNF val66met). Method: A total of 323 patients with a broad DSM-IV schizophrenia spectrum disorder or bipolar disorder were consecutively recruited. A history of childhood trauma was obtained using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. BDNF DNA and RNA were analyzed using standardized procedures. A subsample of n=108 underwent MRI scanning, and the FreeSurfer was used to obtain measures of hippocampal subfield. All MRI data were corrected for age and gender, with post-hoc analysis correcting for ICV. Results: A history of childhood trauma or being a met carrier of the BDNF val66met was associated with significantly reduced BDNF mRNA level. Additive effects were observed between a history of childhood trauma and BDNF val66met, in the direction of met carriers with high levels of childhood trauma having the lowest BDNF mRNA levels. Lastly, met carriers reporting high levels of childhood trauma (specifically sexual or physical abuse) had significantly reduced hippocampal subfield volumes CA2/3 and CA4 dentate gyrus. Conclusion: The current findings demonstrate that the reduced BDNF mRNA levels found in psychosis may be associated with both a history of childhood trauma and BDNF val66met variants. Further, our study supports a two hit model including a history of childhood trauma as well as genetic vulnerability (met carriers of the BDNF val66met) behind reduced volume of hippocampal subfields in psychosis. This was specifically found for areas important for neurogenesis, the CA2/3and the CA4 DG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume59
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014

Keywords

  • BDNF RNA
  • BDNF val66met
  • Childhood trauma
  • Hippocampal subfields
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)

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