Changes of serum concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) during treatment with venlafaxine and mirtazapine: role of medication and response to treatment

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2013 Mar;46(2):54-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1321908. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


Introduction: Depression, stress and antidepressant treatment have been found to modulate the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Recent research suggests that serum BDNF concentration is reduced in depression and that antidepressant treatment leads to an increase in serum BDNF concentration.

Methods: We studied depressed patients receiving a randomized antidepressant treatment with either mirtazapine (n=29) or venlafaxine (n=27) for 28 days in a prospective design. Changes in the concentrations of serum neurotrophins in response to antidepressant treatment were assessed.

Results: There was a significant "treatment" by "medication" interaction effect on BDNF serum concentrations that indicated a decline of BDNF in venlafaxine-treated patients (7.82±3.75-7.18±5.64 ng/mL), while there was an increase in mirtazapine-treated patients (7.64±6.23-8.50±5.37 ng/mL). There was a trend for a "treatment" by "remission" interaction with a favourable clinical course being related to increasing serum BDNF.

Discussion: Changes in BDNF serum concentrations as a result of antidepressant therapy depend on the antidepressant and potentially on the clinical course.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology
  • Cyclohexanols / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mianserin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mianserin / pharmacology
  • Mianserin / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Mirtazapine
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Mianserin
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride
  • Mirtazapine