To determine the effect of BDNF gene val66met polymorphism on serum BDNF levels in drug-free patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy subjects, that differ by gender.
Sixty-six drug-free patients (19 males+47 females) with non-psychotic MDD and fifty-six healthy controls (18 males+38 females) were recruited. Three-way ANOVA was employed to analyze the effect of mental health status, met-carriage and gender on Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) scores and serum BDNF levels, by using the MIXED Procedure (SAS).
Patients had a lower serum BDNF level than healthy subjects (22.47 vs. 27.49; p<0.0001). Met-carrier patients had a higher HDRS score than Val homozygote’s (25.99 vs. 22.99, p<0.02). Serum BDNF level for met-carrier subjects (patients+controls) was lower than Val homozygote subjects (23.08 vs. 26.87; p<0.002). However, there were no effects of two-way interactions of met-carriage and mental health status on HDRS scores and serum BDNF levels. There was no gender effect on HDRS scores in the patients. Overall, male subjects (patients+controls) had a higher serum BDNF level than female subjects (26.87 vs. 23.08; p<0.002). However, there were no effects of two-way interactions of gender with mental health status and met-carriage on serum BDNF levels.
We replicated the previous findings of lower serum BDNF levels during depression and in females. In addition, we found that met-carriage had an effect in reducing serum BDNF levels, regardless of gender and depression. Further animal and human studies with a larger sample size should investigate whether BDNF val66met polymorphism could alter brain and serum BDNF levels.