Association between brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and psychiatric symptoms in medicated and unmedicated patients
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBMC Psychiatry. 2022, 22 (1), . 10.1186/s12888-022-03744-2
Background There is evidence that brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) plays a protective role in the brain. Peripheral levels of BDNF correlate with its concentration in the brain. Previous studies have revealed lower serum BDNF levels in patients with mental illnesses. In most studies serum BDNF correlates negatively with psychiatric disorders and disease severity. Most studies in this field are on psychiatric diagnosis and personality traits. The aim of our study is to explore associations between general psychiatric symptoms, independent of diagnostic groups, and serum BDNF as well as the inflammatory biomarker high-sensitive CRP (hs-CRP). Comparison between the group regularly using psychotropic medication and those not using psychotropic medication is conducted. Methods The study is a cross sectional study with 132 participants from a general open inpatient psychiatric ward at the Nordland Hospital Trust, Bodoe, Norway. Participants were assessed on serum levels of BDNF and hs-CRP. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed by a self-rating scale (Symptom check list, SCL-90- R). Multiple linear regression model was used for statistical analyses of associations between levels of BDNF, hs-CRP and symptoms. Results We found a positive association (p < 0.05), for most SCL-90 symptom clusters with BDNF in the psychotropic medication-free group. No associations were found in the group of patients using psychotropic medication, except one, the paranoid ideation cluster (p 0.022). No associations were found between hs-CRP and symptom clusters. Conclusion We found no relation between symptom clusters and the inflammatory biomarker hs-CRP. Serum BDNF levels were positively associated with intensity of psychiatric symptoms in the group of patients not using psychotropic medication. Our findings are in conflict with several previous studies reporting increased hs-CRP as well as decreased rather than increased BDNF in mental suffering. Patients on psychotropic medication may not require the same upregulation because the medication is modulating the underlying biological pathology.