The Effects of BDNF Val66Met Gene Polymorphism on Serum BDNF and Cognitive Function in Methamphetamine-Dependent Patients and Normal Controls: A Case-Control Study

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Studies suggest that a functional polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF Val66Met) may contribute to methamphetamine dependence. We hypothesized that this polymorphism had a role in cognitive deficits in methamphetamine-dependent patients and in the relationship of serum BDNF with cognitive impairments. We conducted a case-control study by assessing 194 methamphetamine-dependent patients and 378 healthy volunteers without history of drug use on the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) and the presence of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and serum BDNF levels. We showed no significant differences in genotype and allele distributions between the methamphetamine-dependent patients and controls. Some aspects of cognitive function significantly differed in the 2 groups. The serum BDNF levels in methamphetamine-dependent patients were significantly higher than those of the healthy controls. In the patients, partial correlation analysis showed a significant positive correlation between serum BDNF and the delayed memory index score. The RBANS scores showed statistically significant BDNF level × genotype interaction. Further regression analyses showed a significant positive association between BDNF levels and the RBANS total score, immediate memory or attention index among Val homozygote patients, whereas a significant negative association of BDNF levels with the RBANS total score, visuospatial/constructional, or language index was found among Met/Val heterozygous patients. We demonstrated significant impairment on some aspects of cognitive function and increased BDNF levels in methamphetamine-dependent patients as well as genotypic differences in the relationships between BDNF levels and RBANS scores on the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism only in these patients.

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