Nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentrations in schizophrenia: A review

Department of Neuroscience and Imaging, University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy.
Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents (Impact Factor: 2.04). 07/2012; 26(3):347-56.
Source: PubMed


There is growing interest in the role of neurotrophins in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Neurotrophins are a large family of dimeric polypeptides that promote the growth and the differentiation of developing neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems as well as the survival of neuronal cells in response to stress. Nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) concentrations are here reviewed in relation to medication-naive early psychotic patients and in medicated chronic schizophrenic patients. Most data point to decreased plasma and serum NGF and BDNF concentrations in naive drug and in medicated schizophrenic patients compared to healthy controls. Higher BDNF levels were observed in patients with the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia. Low serum BDNF levels were associated with reduction in hippocampal volume (HV) at the onset of schizophrenia. Evidence on the correlation between BDNF levels and positive and negative schizophrenic symptoms were ambiguous. There are contrasting results on a possible correlation between increase in BDNF concentrations and treatment with antipsychotics. Antipsychotic treatment can elevate NGF values, specifically atypical. Growth factors might be good candidates as prognostically and diagnostically useful markers in schizophrenia.

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    • "The discrepant findings across different studies might be explained by potential confounding factors such as the biological heterogeneity of study samples, disease duration, and antipsychotic treatment. Consistent with earlier reports in the literature (Erickson et al., 2010; Rizos et al., 2011; Martinotti et al., 2012), our study found a significant relationship between decreased serum levels of BDNF and reduced bilateral hippocampal volumes in the patient group. Animal studies suggested that BDNF can cross the blood brain barrier (Pan et al., 1998); blood levels of BDNF correlate with its levels in the brain (Karege et al., 2002; Sartorius et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective The present study was to examine serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), folate, homocysteine (Hcy), and their relationships with hippocampal volume and psychopathology in drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia. Method Drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia patients and healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Serum levels of BDNF, folate and Hcy were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA), and enzymatic cycling method respectively. Hippocampus was parcellated and bilateral hippocampal volumes were measured using FreeSurfer. Results Forty-six patients with drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia (SZ group) and 30 healthy controls (control group) were enrolled. The SZ group had significantly lower serum levels of BDNF and folate, and significantly higher serum levels of Hcy compared with the control group (p = 0.013, p < 0.001, p = 0.003 respectively). There were no significant differences in hippocampal volumes between the two groups (ps > 0.2). Within the SZ group, there were significant positive relationships between serum levels of BDNF and both left and right hippocampal volumes (r = 0.327, p = 0.026; r = 0.338, p = 0.022 respectively). In contrast, such relationships did not exist in the control group. Within the SZ group, there were significant negative relationships between serum levels of folate and PANSS-total scores and PANSS-negative symptom scores (r = 0.319, p = 0.031; r = 0.321, p = 0.030 respectively); and there was a positive relationship between serum levels of Hcy and PANSS-total scores (r = 0.312, p = 0.035). Controlling for potential confounding variables resulted in similar findings. Conclusions Drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia presents decreased serum levels of BDNF, folate and increased serum levels of Hcy, which may play an important role in the neurodevelopmental process and clinical manifestation of schizophrenia.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Schizophrenia Research
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    • "As for a potential role for NGF signaling in neuropsychiatric disorders, a quantitative trait locus (QTL) in an NGF intron was recently found to be associated with nonverbal communication in ASD subjects [102]. Also, NGF levels are reduced in an animal model of Rett Syndrome and in the serum of medication-naïve patients with SZ [103], [104]. In addition, NGF-induced neurite extension is enhanced by DISC1 [105], [106]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia (SZ) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorders, although environmental factors, such as maternal immune activation (MIA), play a role as well. Cytokines mediate the effects of MIA on neurogenesis and behavior in animal models. However, MIA stimulators can also induce a febrile reaction, which could have independent effects on neurogenesis through heat shock (HS)-regulated cellular stress pathways. However, this has not been well-studied. To help understand the role of fever in MIA, we used a recently described model of human brain development in which induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) differentiate into 3-dimensional neuronal aggregates that resemble a first trimester telencephalon. RNA-seq was carried out on aggregates that were heat shocked at 39°C for 24 hours, along with their control partners maintained at 37°C. 186 genes showed significant differences in expression following HS (p<0.05), including known HS-inducible genes, as expected, as well as those coding for NGFR and a number of SZ and ASD candidates, including SMARCA2, DPP10, ARNT2, AHI1 and ZNF804A. The degree to which the expression of these genes decrease or increase during HS is similar to that found in copy loss and copy gain copy number variants (CNVs), although the effects of HS are likely to be transient. The dramatic effect on the expression of some SZ and ASD genes places HS, and perhaps other cellular stressors, into a common conceptual framework with disease-causing genetic variants. The findings also suggest that some candidate genes that are assumed to have a relatively limited impact on SZ and ASD pathogenesis based on a small number of positive genetic findings, such as SMARCA2 and ARNT2, may in fact have a much more substantial role in these disorders - as targets of common environmental stressors.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "The inter-group analysis showed differences in biomarkers profile, with increased levels of BDNF and decreased levels of TBARS in SZ group. Although several studies described reductions of BDNF levels in individuals with SZ when compared with a healthy control group (Favalli et al., 2012; Martinotti et al., 2012; Zhang et al., 2012), there are also reports of non-altered levels (Niitsu et al., 2011) or even increased BDNF levels with antipsychotic treatment (Noto et al., 2011; Reis et al., 2008; Yoshimura et al., 2012). Possible explanations for these differences are variations in medication use, especially in the proportion of the sample that was under clozapine use (Pedrini et al., 2012), and presence of psychiatric comorbidities (Noto et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate possible differences in peripheral levels of chemokines, BDNF and oxidative markers between patients with Schizophrenia (SZ) and matched healthy controls, and investigate the correlation of these biomarkers with cognitive performance. Thirty individuals with SZ and 27 healthy controls were included and the following plasmatic biomarkers' levels were determined according to manufacturers' instructions: BDNF, TBARS, protein carbonyl content (PCC) and the chemokines CXCL-10/IP-10, CXCL-8/IL-8, CCL-11, CCL-24/Eotaxin-2, CCL-2/MCP-1, CCL-3/MIP-1. Selected neuropsychological tasks were administered to assess verbal learning (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test), verbal fluency (FAS test), working memory (Visual Working Memory Task, Keep Track Task, Letter Memory Task), set shifting (Plus-minus task, Number-letter task), inhibition (Computerized Stroop Task, Semantic Generation Task) and complex executive function tasks (Tower of London and the shortened version of the WCST-64). Compared with the healthy control group, individuals with SZ presented significantly higher levels of BDNF and the chemokine CCL-11, and lower levels of TBARS and the chemokine CXCL-10/IP-10. When we examined only the SZ group, BDNF levels were positively correlated with semantic generation tasks. Working memory ability was negatively correlated with PCC. Regarding chemokines, CCL-11 was negatively correlated to performance in working memory test, and positively correlated with cognitive flexibility task. CXCL-8/IL-8 was positively correlated with verbal fluency. CCL-24/Eotaxin-2 was positively correlated with semantic generation ability and letter memory task. Our results indicate that cognitive performance in SZ is associated with mediators of neuroplasticity that can be measured peripherally.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Journal of Psychiatric Research
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