Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and Eating Disorders.

ABSTRACT I: Possible involvement of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in eating disorders.

Nakazato M, et al.

IUBMB Life. 2012 Apr 4.

Source: Research Center for Child Mental Development, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba, Japan; Department of Child Psychiatry, Chiba University Hospital, Chiba, Japan.

Eating disorders (EDs) manifest as abnormal patterns of eating behavior and weight regulation driven by low self-esteem due to weight preoccupation and perceptions toward body weight and shape. Two major groups of such disorders are anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). The etiology of EDs is complex and evidence indicates that both biological/genetic and psychosocial factors are involved. Several lines of evidence indicate that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a critical role in regulating eating behaviors and cognitive impairments in the EDs. BDNF is involved in neuronal proliferation, differentiation, and survival during development. BDNF and its tyrosine kinase receptor (TrkB) are expressed in hypothalamic nuclei associated with eating behaviors. A series of studies using BDNF knockout mice and the human BDNF gene indicate an association of BDNF and EDs with predisposition and vulnerability. In the previous studies, serum BDNF levels in subjects with EDs are reduced significantly compared with healthy controls, hence, we proposed that levels of serum BDNF would be a useful diagnostic indicator for EDs

ABSTRACT II: Role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in eating disorders: recent findings and its pathophysiological implications.

Hashimoto K, et al. Show all Journal
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2005 May;29(4):499-504.

Source: Department of Psychiatry, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.

Eating disorders, which include anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), are disorders characterized by abnormal patterns of weight regulation and eating behaviors, and by disturbances in attitudes and perceptions toward weight and body shape. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a critical role in regulating neural survival, development, function, and plasticity in the brain. Recent findings using heterozygous BDNF (+/-) knock-out (reduced BDNF levels) mice have provided evidence that BDNF plays a role in regulating eating behaviors. Recently, we found that serum levels of BDNF in patients with eating disorders are significantly decreased compared with normal controls. In addition, an association between the BDNF gene polymorphism and eating disorders has been demonstrated. We reviewed the role of BDNF in the pathophysiology of eating disorders and the BDNF gene as a susceptibility gene for eating disorders. Considering the low levels of BDNF in patients with eating disorders, using drugs that increase the BDNF levels and/or BDNF gene therapy are possible novel therapeutic approaches. Providing confirmation that the BDNF gene is the true susceptibility gene for eating disorders could lead to rapid therapeutic progress in treating these disorders. In addition, a more complete understanding of the signal transduction pathway via the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) and TrkB receptors would provide new perspectives for treating eating disorders.

ABSTRACT III: Met66 in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) precursor is associated with anorexia nervosa restrictive type.

Ribasés M, et al.

Mol Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;8(8):745-51.

Source: Genes and Disease Program, Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Several lines of evidence support a role for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) alterations in the etiology of eating disorders (EDs). BDNF heterozygous knockout mice show alterations in eating behavior, increased body weight and adipocyte hypertrophy. BDNF also regulates the synaptic efficiency through the modulation of key neurotransmitter systems previously known to be involved in ED. These findings, together with the fact that this neurotrophin is expressed in the hypothalamus nuclei associated with weight regulation and feeding control, led us to propose BDNF as a candidate gene for ED. To investigate the possible involvement of this neurotrophin in eating behavior, we screened the BDNF gene in 95 ED patients and identified four sequence variants. Two of them, -374A/T and -256G/A, were found in two patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) and consisted of single-nucleotide mutations within the 5′ untranslated region (5’UTR). The other two polymorphisms resulted in a C to T transition located at the 5’UTR of the BDNF gene and an amino-acid substitution within the BDNF precursor protein (Val66Met). We performed a case-control study for these two Single-nucleotide polymorphisms in a sample of 143 ED patients and 112 unrelated controls and found a strong association of restricting AN (ANR) with the Met allele of the Val66Met BDNF polymorphism (2p=0.002). There was also evidence for a significant effect of this sequence variant on the minimum body mass index (MBMI) (2p=0.006). These results suggest that the BDNF Met66 variant may be a susceptibility factor to ED, mainly to ANR and low MBMI.

ABSTRACT IV:Low serum BDNF and food intake regulation: a possible new explanation of the pathophysiology of eating disorders.

Saito S, et al.

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Mar 17;33(2):312-6.

Source: Department of Neuropsychiatry, Sapporo Medical University, School of Medicine, South-1, West-16, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 0608543 Japan.

BACKGROUND: Several lines of evidence suggest that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in weight regulation and eating behavior, and poorly balanced diets lead to a decrease in blood BDNF levels. However, studies regarding BDNF blood levels in eating disorders (ED) have yielded inconsistent results. We measured serum concentrations of BDNF and assessed behavior and cognition related to eating in ED patients and control subjects.

METHODS: Forty female drug-free patients [19 with anorexia nervosa (AN), 21 with bulimia nervosa (BN)], who did not meet the diagnostic criteria for depressive disorder, and 24 age-matched normal control subjects were enrolled in the current study. We evaluated eating-related psychopathology and depressive symptoms using the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2), Eating Attitude Test-26 (EAT-26) and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), and measured serum BDNF levels by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

RESULTS: Compared to normal controls, serum levels of BDNF were significantly reduced in AN, but not in BN. There was a significant positive correlation between serum BDNF levels and BMI in both AN patients (r=.649, p=.003) and BN patients (r=.626, p=.002). However, no correlation between serum BDNF levels and BMI was detected in the controls. Furthermore, there was a significant negative correlation between serum BDNF levels and the oral control subscale scores of EAT in both AN patients (r=-.506, p=.027) and BN patients (r=-.511, p=.018); whereas, no correlation was detected in normal controls.

CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrated that individuals showing more extreme food intake regulation were those with lower serum BDNF levels. This finding is contrary to that in mice where mice with reduced BDNF levels showed aberrant eating behavior. This result suggests that BDNF is no longer functioning appropriately in ED patients, which could be an important factor in the pathophysiological of ED.

ABSTRACT V: Circulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor is decreased in women with anorexia and bulimia nervosa but not in women with binge-eating disorder: relationships to co-morbid depression, psychopathology and hormonal variables.

Monteleone P, et al.

Psychol Med. 2005 Jun;35(6):897-905.

Source: Department of Psychiatry, University of Naples SUN, Naples, Italy.

BACKGROUND: Several lines of evidence indicate a role of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the modulation of eating behaviour. Therefore, alterations in the physiology of this neurotrophin may be involved in the pathogenesis of eating disorders. In the present study, we investigated serum levels of BDNF in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge-eating disorder (BED).

METHOD: Ninety-nine drug-free women (27 with AN, 24 with BN, 24 with BED and 24 healthy controls) underwent both a blood sample collection in the morning and diagnostic and psychopathological assessments by means of structured clinical interviews and ad-hoc rating scales. Serum levels of BDNF, 17 beta-oestradiol, FT3 and FT4 were measured.

RESULTS: Compared to healthy controls, serum levels of BDNF were significantly reduced in underweight AN women and in normal weight BN women, but not in overweight BED women. Changes in circulating BDNF levels were not affected by the presence of co-morbid depressive disorders. No significant correlation emerged between neurotrophin concentrations and psychopathological, nutritional, demographic and hormonal variables.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings evidentiate alterations in serum BDNF levels in malnourished patients with AN or BN, but not in well-nourished individuals with BED. Since BDNF seems to exert a satiety effect, its reduction may represent an adaptive change to counteract the decreased calorie ingestion of AN and BN individuals.

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