Serum BDNF levels and weight gain in schizophrenic patients on long-term treatment with antipsychotics

J Psychiatr Res. 2007 Dec;41(12):997-1004. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2006.08.007. Epub 2006 Nov 13.


Several lines of evidence suggest that central brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) modulates food intake, metabolism, and increases in body weight. Reports have also shown that serum BDNF is altered in schizophrenic patients treated with antipsychotics. This study aimed to determine if there was a relationship between BDNF and antipsychotic-induced weight gain in patients with chronic schizophrenia. Serum BDNF was measured in 124 schizophrenia patients chronically treated with clozapine (n=57), risperidone (n=23) or typical antipsychotics (n=44) and 50 healthy control subjects. To further assess group differences in serum BDNF, additional analyses were performed in a subset of patients and controls individually matched for body mass index (BMI). BDNF levels were lower in patients with schizophrenia than normal controls. However, this difference was not present when controlling for current BMI. In the individually BMI-matched sample, no differences in serum BDNF levels were observed in schizophrenic patients compared to BMI-matched healthy controls. BDNF levels negatively correlated with BMI gain in female but not in male patients when gender was considered. Antipsychotic class exerted differential effects over BDNF levels and BMI gain. Our findings suggest that decreased BDNF levels may be associated with weight gain in female schizophrenic patients on long-term antipsychotic treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clozapine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risperidone / therapeutic use
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Serum
  • Weight Gain*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Clozapine
  • Risperidone