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BDNF Val66Met Allele Is Associated with Reduced Hippocampal Volume in Healthy Subjects

      Background

      A frequent polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene (val66met) has been suggested to modulate hippocampal neuronal plasticity and has been associated with individual variations in emotional reactivity traits and episodic memory.

      Methods

      The hippocampal formation was outlined in high-resolution anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data in a sample of 36 healthy volunteers and compared between individuals as a function of the presence of the met-BDNF allele. Both whole-brain volume corrected and uncorrected data were tested for effects of genotype, sex, and age.

      Results

      The met-BDNF allele was associated with an 11% reduction in the volume of the hippocampal formation.

      Conclusions

      In spite of a relatively small sample size, the presence of the met-BDNF allele was found associated with a reduced volume of the hippocampal formation in healthy volunteers and may represent a vulnerability factor for the development of disease processes associated with the dysfunction of this brain region.

      Key Words

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