The Relation of the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor with MicroRNAs in Neurodegenerative Diseases and Ischemic Stroke

Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Jan;58(1):329-347. doi: 10.1007/s12035-020-02101-2. Epub 2020 Sep 17.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors that plays a crucial role in the development of the nervous system while supporting the survival of existing neurons and instigating neurogenesis. Altered levels of BDNF, both in the circulation and in the central nervous system (CNS), have been reported to be involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington's disease (HD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and ischemic stroke. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-coding RNAs found in body fluids such as peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Several different miRNAs, and their target genes, are recognized to be involved in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative and neurovascular diseases. Thus, they present as promising biomarkers and a novel treatment approach for CNS disorders. Currently, limited studies provide viable evidence of miRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation of BDNF. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the current knowledge regarding the potential diagnostic and prognostic values of miRNAs affecting BDNF expression and its role as a CNS disorders and neurovascular disease biomarker. Moreover, a novel therapeutic approach in neurodegenerative diseases and ischemic stroke targeting miRNAs associated with BDNF will be discussed.

Keywords: BDNF; Neurodegenerative disease; Neurotrophic factor; Neurotrophin; Neurovascular disease; Novel treatment; Peripheral biomarker; Stroke; miRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke / genetics*
  • Ischemic Stroke / therapy
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • MicroRNAs