Reduced hippocampus volume and memory performance in bipolar disorder patients carrying the BDNF val66met met allele

Bo Cao, Isabelle E. Bauer, Ajaykumar N. Sharma, Benson Mwangi, Thomas Frazier, Luca Lavagnino, Giovana B. Zunta-Soares, Consuelo Walss-Bass, David C. Glahn, Flavio Kapczinski, David A. Nielsen, Jair C. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Background Previous studies investigated the impact of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) val66met (rs6265) on hippocampus volumes and neurocognition in bipolar disorders (BD), but the results were not consistent. This study aimed to investigate the effect of BDNF polymorphism on hippocampus volumes and memory performance in well-characterized adult populations diagnosed with type I BD (BD-I) and major depressive disorder (MDD) compared with healthy controls (HC). Methods 48 BD-I patients, 33 MDD patients and 60 HC were genotyped for BDNF rs6265 using DNA isolated from white blood cells. Individuals with val/met and met/met genotypes were grouped as met carriers and compared to those with the val/val. Brain segmentations were obtained from structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using the Freesurfer. Memory performance was assessed with the California Verbal Learning Task (CVLT). Results We found a significant diagnosis effect and marginal interaction between diagnosis and BDNF genotype group for both hippocampus volumes and memory performance. BDNF met allele carrier BD patients had smaller hippocampus volumes and reduced performance on multiple CVLT scores compared to MDD patients and HC. Conclusions We provide strong evidence for the BDNF val66met polymorphism as a putative biological signature for the neuroanatomical and cognitive abnormalities commonly observed in BD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF val66met
  • Bipolar
  • Bipolar disorder type I
  • Hippocampus
  • MRI
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Memory
  • Polymorphism
  • Volume


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