Transcranial magnetic stimulation and BDNF plasma levels in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Neuroreport. 2004 Mar 22;15(4):717-20. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200403220-00029.


Low- and high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the motor cortex results in lasting changes of excitatory neurotransmission. We investigated the effects of suprathreshold 1 Hz rTMS on brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plasma levels in 10 healthy subjects and effects of either 1 Hz or 20 Hz rTMS in four amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. BDNF levels were progressively decreased by 1 Hz rTMS in healthy subjects; there was no effect of 1 Hz rTMS on BDNF plasma levels in ALS patients, an effect probably due to the loss of motor cortex pyramidal cells. High frequency rTMS determined a transitory decrease in BDNF plasma levels. Cumulatively these findings suggest that rTMS might influence the BDNF production by interfering with neuronal activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / blood
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Motor Cortex / radiation effects
  • Reference Values
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor