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Association of BDNF Val66Met polymorphism with HPA and SAM axis reactivity to psychological and physical stress

Authors Tsuru J, Tanaka Y, Ishitobi Y, Maruyama Y, Inoue A, Kawano A, Ikeda R, Ando T, Oshita H, Aizawa S, Masuda K, Higuma H, Kanehisa M, Ninomiya T, Akiyoshi J

Received 30 May 2014

Accepted for publication 6 August 2014

Published 11 November 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 2123—2133


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Jusen Tsuru,1 Yoshihiro Tanaka,1 Yoshinobu Ishitobi,1 Yoshihiro Maruyama,1 Ayako Inoue,1 Aimi Kawano,1 Rie Ikeda,1 Tomoko Ando,1 Harumi Oshita,2 Saeko Aizawa,1 Koji Masuda,1 Haruka Higuma,1 Masayuki Kanehisa,1 Taiga Ninomiya,1 Jotaro Akiyoshi1

1Department of Neuropsychiatry, 2Department of Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Medicine, Oita University, Oita, Japan

Background: Decreased expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is implicated in enhanced stress responses. The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism is associated with psychological changes; for example, carriers of the Met allele exhibit increased harm avoidance as well as a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety disorder.
Methods: To analyze the effects of BDNF Val66Met on stress responses, we tested 226 university students (88 women and 138 men) using a social stress procedure (Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]) and an electrical stimulation stress test. Stress indices were derived from repeated measurements of salivary α-amylase, salivary cortisol, heart rate, and psychological testing during the stress tests. All subjects were genotyped for the Val66Met polymorphism (G196A).
Results: A significant three-way interaction (time [3 levels] × BDNF [Val/Val, Val/Met, Met/Met]; P<0.05) was demonstrated that revealed different salivary cortisol responses in the TSST but not in electrical stimulation. Met/Met women had stronger cortisol responses than Val/Met and Val/Val individuals in the TSST. Met/Met men exhibited stronger salivary cortisol responses than Val/Met and Val/Val individuals in the TSST.
Conclusion: These results indicate that a common, functionally significant polymorphism in BDNF had different effects on hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical axis reactivity but not on sympathetic adrenomedullary reactivity in TSST and electrical stimulation tests.

Keywords: stress, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, cortisol, saliva

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