a1 Genetics Unit, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy
a2 Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy
a3 Division of Biology and Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
a4 Psychiatric Unit, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy
Consistent data coming from biochemical studies have evidenced a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) serum reduction in depressed patients compared to controls and a restoration following antidepressant treatment. However, to date, no study has evaluated whether BDNF synthesis in leukocytes could contribute to such modulation. Therefore, in this study, we analysed BDNF mRNA levels in leukocytes from 21 depressed patients prior to and during escitalopram treatment and from 23 control subjects showing that BDNF mRNA levels were decreased in drug-free depressed patients and that 12 wk escitalopram treatment was able to reverse this deficit. Interestingly, changes in BDNF mRNA levels paralleled BDNF serum increase during antidepressant treatment, and were correlated with symptoms improvement. Our results indicate that BDNF serum modulation observed in depressed patients is associated with BDNF synthesis alteration in leukocytes and suggest that these peripheral cells might play an active role in the mechanisms of action of antidepressants.
(Received June 05 2009)
(Reviewed August 05 2009)
(Revised September 01 2009)
(Accepted September 17 2009)
(Online publication October 19 2009)
c1 Address for correspondence: Dr L. Bocchio-Chiavetto, Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, via Pilastroni, 4 - 25125 Brescia, Italy. Tel.: +39 030 3501453 Fax: +39 030 3501592 Email: [email protected]
* These authors contributed equally to this work.