Reduced Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels have been described in a number of patho-physiological conditions, most notably, in Huntington's disease (HD), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Since BDNF is also produced in blood, we have undertaken the measurement of its peripheral levels in the attempt to identify a possible link with HD prognosis and/or its progression. Here we evaluated BDNF level in 398 blood samples including 138 controls, 56 preHD, and 204 HD subjects. We found that BDNF protein levels were not reliably different between groups, whether measured in plasma (52 controls, 26 preHD, 105 HD) or serum (39 controls, 5 preHD, 29 HD). Our experience, and a re-analysis of the literature highlighted that intra-group variability and methodological aspects affect this measurement, especially in serum. We also assessed BDNF mRNA levels in blood samples from 47 controls, 25 preHD, and 70 HD subjects, and found no differences among the groups. We concluded that levels of BDNF in human blood were not informative (mRNA levels or plasma protein level) nor reliable (serum protein levels) as HD biomarkers. We also wish to warn the scientific community in interpreting the significance of changes measured in BDNF protein levels in serum from patients suffering from different conditions.
Zuccato, C., Marullo, M., Vitali, B., Tarditi, A., Mariotti, C., Valenza, M., … Cattaneo, E. (2011). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor in patients with Huntington’s disease. PLoS ONE, 6(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0022966