The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of certain antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs on the in vitro production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in whole blood cell culture from healthy volunteers. Whole blood cells from 41 healthy volunteers were stimulated with or without phytohemagglutinin and lipopolysaccharides with treatments of amitriptyline, paroxetine, mirtazapine, and venlafaxine, which are antidepressant drugs, and haloperidol and clozapine, which are antipsychotic drugs. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels were measured in supernatants of unstimulated and stimulated whole blood cell cultures. When the effects of each antidepressant agent at the therapeutic concentration were compared with the effects in control subjects using the Wilcoxon test, the in vitro BDNF production was significantly enhanced in the stimulated cultures treated with amitriptyline (P = 0.021). When analyzing the change in the BDNF productions by each of the drugs using the Friedman test, amitriptyline significantly increased the BDNF production in stimulated cultures (P = 0.002), whereas paroxetine, mirtazapine, and venlafaxine did not stimulate the BDNF production (P > 0.05). However, BDNF production by amitriptyline was only increased by 12% to 17%. Haloperidol and clozapine at therapeutic concentrations did not significantly alter the BDNF production in unstimulated and stimulated whole blood cells (P > 0.05).
Our study suggests that some antidepressant and antipsychotic agents do not have a direct effect on increasing the BDNF production in whole blood cells during immediate treatment. Thus, the level of BDNF production in human blood cells may not influence the plasma or serum BDNF levels of subjects in clinical studies.