Alzheimers disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by cognitive decline with loss of memory. In the last years there has been a great interest on the early phases of AD, trying to identify the pathogenic mechanisms of AD and define early treatment modalities. In particular, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is attractive because it represents a transitional state between normal aging and dementia, although not all MCI patients automatically convert to AD. The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is critical for survival and function of neurons that degenerate in AD and represents a potential neuroprotective agent. However, opposite data on serum levels of BDNF have been reported in AD patients, probably reflecting differences in patient recruitment and stage of the disease. Thus, in this study we measured BDNF serum levels in AD patients (with different degree of severity), MCI patients and healthy subjects. We found that serum BNDF levels were significantly increased in MCI and AD patients when compared to healthy subjects and this increase in AD patients was neither dependent on illness severity, nor on treatment with Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and/or antidepressant medications. Our findings indicate that BDNF serum levels increase in MCI and AD patients, supporting the hypothesis of an upregulation of BDNF in both preclinical phase of dementia (MCI) and clinical stages of AD. Other studies are necessary to establish a direct link between BDNF peripheral levels and AD longitudinal course, as well as the role of other factors, such as blood cell activation, in determining these events.
Keywords: BDNF, Alzheimer, MCI, Serum levels, Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, Antidepressant drugs, Neuroprotection
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