Serum BDNF as a Potential Biomarker of Alzheimer's Disease: Verification Through Assessment of Serum, Cerebrospinal Fluid, and Medial Temporal Lobe Atrophy

Front Neurol. 2021 Apr 23;12:653267. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2021.653267. eCollection 2021.


There is an urgent need to establish blood biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although it has been speculated that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is associated with AD, whether it can be used as a blood biomarker has yet to be determined. We used serum, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and medial temporal lobe atrophy from patients with AD to evaluate the association of BDNF with AD and assess its severity. For the blood analysis, 66 participants [21 normal controls (NCs) with normal cognitive function, 22 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to AD, and 23 patients with AD] were included. For the CSF analysis, 30 participants were included. Magnetic resonance imaging, including a voxel-based specific regional analysis system for AD, and a Mini Mental State Examination were performed. Serum levels of BDNF and CSF levels of amyloid-β42, total tau, and phosphorylated tau were measured using ELISA. Serum BDNF levels were significantly lower in the MCI due to AD group than in the NC group (p = 0.037). Although there was no significant difference in the AD group, there was a downward trend compared to the NC group. Serum BDNF levels were positively correlated with CSF Aβ42 levels (r = 0.49, p = 0.005). There was a significant correlation between serum BDNF levels and medial temporal lobe atrophy. Decreased serum BDNF can potentially be used as a biomarker for early AD detection. Early detection of AD with a less invasive blood test is very beneficial, as it allows for intervention before dementia progresses.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; BDNF; blood biomarker; medial temporal lobe atrophy; mild cognitive impairment.