Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and brain-derived neurotrophic factor: a speculative hypothesis

Med Hypotheses. 2003 Jun;60(6):849-51. doi: 10.1016/s0306-9877(03)00052-5.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is important for normal neuronal development. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder, is characterized by inattention and hyperactivity. Psychostimulants and antidepressants are the agents commonly used for the treatment of ADHD and were also found to elevate central BDNF. It is proposed here that BDNF may play a role in the therapeutic action and pathogenesis of ADHD. This hypothesis may provide a new direction for the treatment and the pathogenesis of ADHD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / metabolism*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants