BDNF Val66Met allele is associated with reduced hippocampal volume in healthy subjects

Biol Psychiatry. 2006 May 1;59(9):812-5. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.09.022. Epub 2006 Jan 25.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alleles*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Methionine / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Valine / genetics*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Methionine
  • Valine