Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been shown to be important for neuronal survival and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus in nonhuman animals. The Val66Met polymorphism in the BDNF gene, involving a valine (Val) to methionine (Met) substitution at codon 66, has been associated with lower BDNF secretion in vitro. However, there have been mixed results regarding associations between either circulating BDNF or the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism with hippocampal volume and memory in humans. The current study examined the association of BDNF genotype and plasma BDNF with hippocampal volume and memory in two large independent cohorts of middle-aged and older adults (both cognitively normal and early-stage dementia). Sample sizes ranged from 123 to 649. Measures of the BDNF genotype, plasma BDNF, MRI-based hippocampal volume, and memory performance were obtained from the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). There were no significant differences between BDNF Met+ and Met- groups on either hippocampal volume or memory in either cohort. In addition, plasma BDNF was not significantly associated with either hippocampal volume or memory in either cohort. Neither age, cognitive status, nor gender moderated any of the relationships. Overall, current findings suggest that BDNF genotype and plasma BDNF may not be robust predictors for variance in hippocampal volume and memory in middle age and older adult cohorts.
- Episodic memory