Background: A frequent polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene (val(66)met) has been suggested to modulate hippocampal neuronal plasticity and has been associated with individual variations in emotional reactivity traits and episodic memory.
Methods: The hippocampal formation was outlined in high-resolution anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data in a sample of 36 healthy volunteers and compared between individuals as a function of the presence of the met-BDNF allele. Both whole-brain volume corrected and uncorrected data were tested for effects of genotype, sex, and age.
Results: The met-BDNF allele was associated with an 11% reduction in the volume of the hippocampal formation.
Conclusions: In spite of a relatively small sample size, the presence of the met-BDNF allele was found associated with a reduced volume of the hippocampal formation in healthy volunteers and may represent a vulnerability factor for the development of disease processes associated with the dysfunction of this brain region.