Background: Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been shown to play an important role in poststroke recovery. BDNF secretion is influenced by genetic and epigenetic profiles. This study aimed to investigate whether BDNF val66met polymorphism and promoter methylation status were associated with outcomes at two weeks and one year after stroke.
Methods and findings: A total of 286 patients were evaluated at the time of admission and two weeks after stroke, and 222 (78%) were followed one year later in order to evaluate consequences of stroke at both acute and chronic stages. Stroke outcomes were dichotomised into good and poor by the modified Rankin Scale. Stroke severity (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale), physical disability (Barthel Index), and cognitive function (Mini-Mental State Examination) were measured. Associations of BDNF genotype and methylation status on stroke outcomes and assessment scale scores were investigated using logistic regression, repeated measures ANOVA and partial correlation tests. BDNF val66met polymorphism was independently associated with poor outcome at 2 weeks and at 1 year, and with worsening physical disability and cognitive function over that period. Higher BDNF promoter methylation status was independently associated with worse outcomes at 1 year, and with the worsening of physical disability and cognitive function. No significant genotype-methylation interactions were found.
Conclusions: A role for BDNF in poststroke recovery was supported, and clinical utility of BDNF genetic and epigenetic profile as prognostic biomarkers and a target for drug development was suggested.