The Physiology of BDNF and Its Relationship with ADHD

Mol Neurobiol. 2015 Dec;52(3):1467-1476. doi: 10.1007/s12035-014-8956-6. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a major neurotrophin in the central nervous system that plays a critical role in the physiological brain functions via its two independent receptors: tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) and p75, especially in the neurodevelopment. Disrupting of BDNF and its downstream signals has been found in many neuropsychological diseases, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common mental disorder which is prevalent in childhood. Understanding the physiological functions of BDNF during neural development and its potential relationship with ADHD will help us to elucidate the possible mechanisms of ADHD and to develop therapeutic approaches for this disease. In this review, we summarized the important literatures for the physiological functions of BDNF in the neurodevelopment. We also performed an association study on the functional genetic variation of BDNF and ADHD by a case-control study in the Chinese mainland population and revealed the potential correlation between BDNF and ADHD which needs further research to confirm.

Keywords: ADHD; BDNF; Neural development; Val66Met.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Asian People / genetics
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / chemistry
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / deficiency
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Hyperkinesis / genetics
  • Learning Disabilities / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Rats
  • Rats, Transgenic
  • Receptor, trkB / physiology
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • NGFR protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • BDNF protein, human
  • Receptor, trkB