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Significantly lower nerve growth factor levels in patients with major depressive disorder than in healthy subjects: a meta-analysis and systematic review

Authors Chen Y, Lin P, Tu K, Cheng Y, Wu C, Tseng P

Received 23 January 2015

Accepted for publication 9 February 2015

Published 1 April 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 925—933

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S81432

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Yen-Wen Chen,1 Pao-Yen Lin,2,3 Kun-Yu Tu,4 Yu-Shian Cheng,4 Ching-Kuan Wu,4 Ping-Tao Tseng4

1Department of Neurology, E-Da Hospital, 2Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, 3Center for Translational Research in Biomedical Sciences, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 4Department of Psychiatry, Tsyr-Huey Mental Hospital, Kaohsiung Jen-Ai’s Home, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Introduction: Since its discovery several decades ago, nerve growth factor (NGF) has been found to play roles in different areas, such as neurology, endocrinology, and immunology. There is some evidence linking NGF and psychiatry, including the role of NGF in subjects’ response to stress, the alteration of NGF in different emotional states, and the penetration of NGF across the blood–brain barrier under specific conditions. There are many inconsistent findings regarding the differences in NGF in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) at the present time. The aim of our study was to clarify whether NGF levels are different in MDD compared with healthy controls (HCs).
Methods: We conducted a thorough literature search and compared peripheral NGF levels between MDD and HC through meta-analysis, and investigated possible confounding variables through meta-regression.
Results: Seven studies were brought into the current meta-analysis comparing peripheral NGF in MDD and HCs. The main result was that the NGF levels were significantly lower in MDD than in HCs and that this had an inverse correlation with mean age and disease severity. In addition, meta-analysis of four articles found that the peripheral NGF levels did not change significantly before and after treatment.
Conclusion: Our study highlights the significant differences in peripheral NGF levels in patients with MDD. However, further exploration of the dynamic changes in peripheral NGF along with the disease course, and specific studies investigating the correlation of NGF in the peripheral and CNS environments are still needed.

Keywords: psychiatry, NGF, mood disorder, neurotrophic factor

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