Decreased serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in elderly korean with dementia

Psychiatry Investig. 2009 Dec;6(4):299-305. doi: 10.4306/pi.2009.6.4.299. Epub 2009 Nov 11.


Objective: The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in the serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) level between elderly Korean people over 65 years with and without dementia.

Methods: 171 individuals over 65 years were enrolled in this study. Screening for cognitive impairments was carried out using the Mini-Mental Status Examination-Korean version (MMSE-KC). One hundred thirty-two subjects scored below 1.5 standard deviations (SD) of the mean MMSE-KC score, and these were evaluated using the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease, Korean version (CERAD-K) and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). The Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDRS) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) diagnostic criteria were used for further evaluation. Subjects with a CDRS score of 1 or higher were classified as having Alzheimer's disease (AD), and subjects with a CDRS score of 0.5 were classified as having a mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Subjects with a CDRS score of 0 were classified as having aging-associated cognitive decline (AACD). Serum BDNF levels were analyzed using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method.

Results: The serum BDNF levels were significantly lower in the subjects with MCI and AD compared with the healthy controls (p<0.01). A significant correlation was found between the total MMSE-KC score and serum BDNF level (r=0.295; p<0.01). However, no significant correlation was observed between the severity of MMSE-KC and the total GDS score. A significant difference was found in the total score of GDS between the AACD group and subjects with AD (p<0.05).

Conclusion: This study suggested that BDNF might be involved in the pathophysiology of cognitive decline in elderly people.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Depression; Mild cognitive impairment.