Increased BDNF may not be associated with cognitive impairment in heroin-dependent patients

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A growing number of evidence suggests that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important part in modulating the activities on the basis of hippocampus neural plasticity, such as learning and memory. Heroin addiction has a series of cognitive impairments that may be associated with BDNF. In this study, we explored the association of BDNF with cognitive function in heroin-dependent patients.

We enrolled 86 heroin-dependent patients and 238 normal control subjects and examined their cognition by the repeatable battery for the assessment of neuropsychological status (RBANS) and serum BDNF levels in 2 groups.

BDNF levels were significantly higher in patients than controls (P < .001). Cognitive scores of the RBANS showed that attention and language index (P < .05) were significantly lower in heroin-dependent patients than control groups. Unfortunately, we found no positive association between BDNF and cognitive function in patients, except that BDNF was positively associated with visuospatial/constructional index in control groups.

Our findings suggest that BDNF may not be involved in the pathophysiology of heroin dependence, but more studies about cognitive impairment in heroin addiction are needed.

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