High-Serum Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Levels Are Associated With Decreased Risk of Poststroke Cognitive Impairment

Stroke. 2024 Mar;55(3):643-650. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.123.044698. Epub 2024 Jan 18.


Background: BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is widely implicated in the pathophysiological process of stroke, but the effect of BDNF on poststroke cognitive impairment (PSCI) remains unclear. We aimed to investigate the association between baseline serum BDNF and the risk of PSCI at 3 months in a multicenter study based on a preplanned ancillary study of the CATIS trial (China Antihypertensive Trial in Acute Ischemic Stroke).

Methods: We examined serum BDNF levels at baseline and used the Mini-Mental State Examination and Montreal Cognitive Assessment to evaluate cognitive function at 3-month follow-up after ischemic stroke. PSCI was defined as Mini-Mental State Examination score <27 or Montreal Cognitive Assessment score <25. Logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the association between serum BDNF and the risk of 3-month PSCI.

Results: In this ancillary study, a total of 660 patients with ischemic stroke with hypertension were included, and 593 patients (mean age, 59.90±10.44 years; 410 males and 183 females) were finally included in this analysis. According to mini-mental state examination score, after adjustment for age, sex, education, baseline National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score, APOE ɛ4 carriers, and other potential confounders, the odds ratio of PSCI for the highest tertile of BDNF was 0.60 ([95% CI, 0.39-0.94]; P=0.024) compared with the lowest tertile. Multiple-adjusted spline regression model showed a linear association of serum BDNF levels with PSCI at 3 months (P value for linearity=0.010). Adding serum BDNF to conventional prognostic factors slightly improved the risk reclassification of PSCI (net reclassification improvement: 27.46%, P=0.001; integrated discrimination index: 1.02%, P=0.015). Similar significant findings were observed when PSCI was defined by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment score.

Conclusions: Elevated serum BDNF levels were associated with a decreased risk of PSCI at 3 months, suggesting that serum BDNF might be a potential predictive biomarker for PSCI among patients with ischemic stroke with hypertension.

Keywords: biomarker; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; cognitive impairment; hypertension; ischemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain Ischemia*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / complications
  • Hypertension* / epidemiology
  • Ischemic Stroke* / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stroke*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor