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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is involved in neurogenesis and in the protection against oxidative damage and neuronal apoptosis. After exercise, there is an increased expression of this myokine, especially in skeletal muscle and brain. Low BDNF levels have been described in neurodegenerative diseases. Alcoholics show both muscle atrophy and brain atrophy. Thus, this study was performed in order to analyze serum BDNF levels among alcoholics and their associations with brain atrophy and muscle strength.
Serum BDNF values were determined to 82 male alcoholics and 27 age-matched controls, and compared with handgrip strength, with the presence of brain atrophy, assessed by computed tomography, and with the intensity of alcoholism and liver function derangement.
BDNF levels and handgrip strength were significantly lower among patients. Handgrip strength was correlated with BDNF values, both in the whole population and in alcoholics, especially in patients over 59 years of age. BDNF was poorly related to liver dysfunction but showed no relationship with brain atrophy or age.
Chronic alcoholics show decreased BDNF serum levels that are related to muscle function impairment rather than to age, brain atrophy, liver dysfunction, or the amount of ethanol consumed.