The brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene confers susceptibility to bipolar disorder: evidence from a family-based association study

Am J Hum Genet. 2002 Sep;71(3):651-5. doi: 10.1086/342288. Epub 2002 Aug 2.


Bipolar disorder (BP) is a severe psychiatric disease, with a strong genetic component, that affects 1% of the population worldwide and is characterized by recurrent episodes of mania and depression. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of mood disorders, and the aim of the present study was to test for the presence of linkage disequilibrium between two polymorphisms in the BDNF gene and BP in 283 nuclear families. Family-based association test (FBAT) results for the dinucleotide repeat (GT)(N) polymorphism at position -1040 bp showed that allele A3 was preferentially transmitted to the affected individuals (Z=2.035 and P=.042). FBAT results for the val66met SNP showed a significant association for allele G (Z=3.415 and P=.00064). Transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT) haplotype analysis showed a significant result for the 3-G allele combination (P=.000394), suggesting that a DNA variant in the vicinity of the BDNF locus confers susceptibility to BP. Given that there is no direct evidence that either of the polymorphisms we examined alters function, it is unlikely that the actual risk-conferring allele is from these two sites. Rather, the causative site is likely nearby and in linkage disequilibrium with the 3-G haplotype that we have identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium / genetics
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor