Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2012 Aug;10(2):61-70.

A Review of Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor as a Candidate Biomarker in Schizophrenia

  • 1Research Division, Institute of Mental Health/Woodbridge Hospital, Singapore.
  • 2Department of General Psychiatry 1, Institute of Mental Health/Woodbridge Hospital, Singapore.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin known to be responsible for development, regeneration, survival and maintenance of neurons has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. This review seeks to complement previous reviews on biological roles of BDNF and summarizes evidence on the involvement of BDNF in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia with an emphasis on clinical relevance. The expressions of BDNF were altered in patients with schizophrenia and were found to be correlated with psychotic symptomatology. Antipsychotics appeared to have differential effects on expression of BDNF but did not restore BDNF expression of patients with schizophrenia to normal levels. In addition, evidence suggests that BDNF is involved in the major neurotransmitter systems and is associated with disruptions in brain structure, neurodevelopmental process, cognitive function, metabolic and immune systems commonly associated with schizophrenia. Besides that, BDNF has been demonstrated to be tightly regulated with estrogen which has also been previously implicated in schizophrenia. Evidence gathered in this review confirms the relevance of BDNF in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and the potential utility of BDNF as a suitable biomarker for diagnostic and prognostic purpose
s for disease outcome and other co-morbidities. However, further investigations are warranted to examine the specificity of BDNF in schizophrenia compared to other neurodegenerative disorders and other neuropsychiatric illness. Longitudinal prospective studies will also be of added advantage for evaluation of prognostic utility of BDNF in schizophrenia.


Schizophrenia; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Biomarkers
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