The Role of BDNF in Major Depressive Disorder, Related Clinical Features, and Antidepressant Treatment: Insight from Meta-Analyses. [Review]

SOURCE: Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 149:105159, 2023 Jun.

AUTHORS: Cavaleri D; Moretti F; Bartoccetti A; Mauro S; Crocamo C; Carra G; Bartoli F

ABSTRACT: The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has received considerable attention as a potential biomarker of major depressive disorder (MDD) and antidepressant response. We conducted an overview of meta-analyses investigating the relationship of BDNF with MDD, related clinical features, and antidepressant treatment. Based on a systematic screening on main electronic databases, 11 systematic reviews with meta-analyses were included. Available evidence suggests that people with MDD have peripheral and central BDNF levels lower than non-depressed individuals. A negative correlation between blood BDNF and symptom severity emerged, while no association with suicidality was detected. Moreover, an increase in blood BDNF levels after antidepressant treatment, proportional to symptom improvement, was reported. BDNF levels seem to be increased in both treatment responders and remitters, remaining stable in non-responders. Conversely, no variations of BDNF concentrations after non-pharmacological interventions (electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and physical activity) were found. The findings of this overview appear consistent with the neurotrophic hypothesis of depression, suggesting that BDNF may play a role in both MDD pathophysiology and pharmacological treatment response.