Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-20

A review of peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in alcohol-dependent patients: Current understanding


1 Department of Psychiatry, Gandhi Medical College, Secunderabad, Telangana, India
2 Department of Psychiatry and National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shanti Mohan Kethawath
Department of Psychiatry, Gandhi Medical College, Secunderabad, Telangana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_134_19

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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a crucial role in neuroplasticity of the brain, and its role in alcohol dependence has been explored in the recent past. Animal studies suggest that BDNF may function as a protective factor in transition from social drinking to an alcohol use disorder. However, clinical studies have not been able to establish similar findings and have shown mixed results. In order to obtain a comprehensive understanding, the current review aims to evaluate the existing literature on the role of BDNF in alcohol dependence. Articles were retrieved using search engines PubMed and Google Scholar. Original research studies focusing on human participants, published in English till October 2018 were reviewed. Studies which measured BDNF levels in serum or plasma or both were included in this study. A total of 13 studies were found which compared BDNF levels in alcohol-dependent patients with control population. The studies have mixed findings. Seven studies measured BDNF levels across the abstinence period, and most of the studies show improving BDNF levels across the abstinence. The current review supports the notion that BDNF plays an important role in the neuroplasticity of alcohol dependence. However, it is premature at this stage to draw conclusions that BDNF may be used as a biomarker, as there have been inconclusive findings when compared with control population. Future studies with longer follow-ups, larger sample size, comparing early and late periods of alcohol abstinence are required for better understanding of the role BDNF in alcohol dependence.



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