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Mental disorders can have a major impact on brain development. Peripheral blood concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are lower in adult psychiatric disorders. Serum BDNF concentrations and BDNF genotype have been associated with cortical maturation in children and adolescents. In 2 large independent samples, this study tests associations between serum BDNF concentrations, brain structure, and psychopathology, and the effects of BDNF genotype on BDNF serum concentrations in late childhood and early adolescence.
Children and adolescents (7-14 years old) from 2 cities (n = 267 in Porto Alegre; n = 273 in São Paulo) were evaluated as part of the Brazilian high-risk cohort (HRC) study. Serum BDNF concentrations were quantified by sandwich ELISA. Genotyping was conducted from blood or saliva samples using the SNParray Infinium HumanCore Array BeadChip. Subcortical volumes and cortical thickness were quantified using FreeSurfer. The Development and Well-Being Behavior Assessment was used to identify the presence of a psychiatric disorder.
Serum BDNF concentrations were not associated with subcortical volumes or with cortical thickness. Serum BDNF concentration did not differ between participants with and without mental disorders, or between Val homozygotes and Met carriers.
No evidence was found to support serum BDNF concentrations as a useful marker of developmental differences in brain and behavior in early life. Negative findings were replicated in 2 of the largest independent samples investigated to date.
A study conducted as part of the development of the Eleventh International Classification of Mental Disorders for Primary Health Care (ICD-11 PHC) provided an opportunity to test the relationships among depressive, anxious and somatic symptoms in PHC.
Primary care physicians participating in the ICD-11 PHC field studies in five countries selected patients who presented with somatic symptoms not explained by known physical pathology by applying a 29-item screening on somatic complaints that were under study for bodily stress disorder. Patients were interviewed using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised and assessed using two five-item scales that measure depressive and anxious symptoms. Structural models of anxious-depressive symptoms and somatic complaints were tested using a bi-factor approach.
A total of 797 patients completed the study procedures. Two bi-factor models fit the data well: Model 1 had all symptoms loaded on a general factor, along with one of three specific depression, anxiety and somatic factors [x2 (627) = 741.016, p < 0.0011, RMSEA = 0.015, CFI = 0.911, TLI = 0.9]. Model 2 had a general factor and two specific anxious depression and somatic factors [x2 (627) = 663.065, p = 0.1543, RMSEA = 0.008, CFI = 0.954, TLI = 0.948].
These data along with those of previous studies suggest that depressive, anxious and somatic symptoms are largely different presentations of a common latent phenomenon. This study provides support for the ICD-11 PHC conceptualization of mood disturbance, especially anxious depression, as central among patients who present multiple somatic symptoms.
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