Low BDNF is associated with cognitive deficits in patients with type 2 diabetes

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013 May;227(1):93-100. doi: 10.1007/s00213-012-2942-3. Epub 2012 Dec 22.


Objective: Studies suggest that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an essential role in regulating memory-related neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is associated with impairment in many domains of cognitive function which may result from reduced BDNF; however, the correlation of BDNF with cognitive impairment in T2DM has not been investigated.

Materials and methods: We compared 208 patients with T2DM to 212 normal controls on serum BDNF and the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS).

Results: Serum BDNF levels were significantly decreased in T2DM patients compared to normal controls (p < 0.001). The total score and nearly all indexes (all p < 0.01) except for attention and visuospatial/constructional indexes (all p > 0.05) of RBANS were markedly lower in T2DM than controls. There was a positive relationship between serum BDNF and delayed memory in patients with T2DM.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that BDNF may play a role in the pathophysiology of cognitive deficits, especially delayed memory in T2DM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Cognition Disorders / blood*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • BDNF protein, human