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We investigated an association between the polymorphism of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene Val66Met and the response to mirtazapine in Japanese patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). We also examined mirtazapine's effects on the serum BDNF and plasma levels of catecholamine metabolites in these patients.
Eighty-four patients who met the DSM-IV-TR criteria for MDD were treated with only mirtazapine for 4 weeks. The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism was detected by direct sequencing in the region, and serum BDNF levels and plasma levels of catecholamine metabolites were measured by ELISA and HPLC-ECD, respectively.
Mirtazapine treatment for 4 weeks significantly increased serum BDNF levels in the responders, whereas nonresponders showed significant decreases. No association was found between either of the two genotypes (Val/Val vs. Met-carriers) and the response to mirtazapine at T4 or the serum BDNF levels at T0. Mirtazapine did not alter the plasma levels of homovanillic acid (HVA) or 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG).
The dynamics of serum BDNF levels, but not plasma levels of HVA and MHPG, reflect the response to mirtazapine treatment; the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism in patients with depression is, however, associated with neither a particular response to mirtazapine treatment nor baseline serum BDNF levels.
Serum BDNF levels, but not plasma levels of HVA or MHPG, and BDNF Val66Met polymorphism are related to the mirtazapine response in MDD.
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