BDNF plasma levels after antidepressant treatment with sertraline and transcranial direct current stimulation: Results from a factorial, randomized, sham-controlled trial

André R. Brunoni, Rodrigo Machado-Vieira, Carlos A. Zarate, Erica L.M. Vieira, Marie Anne Vanderhasselt, Michael A. Nitsche, Leandro Valiengo, Isabela M. Benseñor, Paulo A. Lotufo, Wagner F. Gattaz, Antonio L. Teixeira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation intervention that modifies cortical excitability according to the stimulation parameters. Preclinical and clinical studies in healthy volunteers suggest that tDCS induces neuroplastic alterations of cortical excitability, which might explain its clinical effects in major depressive disorder (MDD). We therefore examined whether tDCS, as compared to the antidepressant sertraline, increases plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, a neurotrophin associated with neuroplasticity. Patients (n=73) with major depressive disorder were randomized to active/sham tDCS and sertraline/placebo (four groups) in this 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. We measured BDNF plasma levels at baseline and endpoint, observing no significant changes of BDNF levels after treatment. In addition, no significant changes were observed in responders and non-responders as well as no relationships between BDNF levels and clinical and psychopathological variables related to depression. Thus, in one of the few placebo-controlled trials evaluating BDNF changes over an antidepressant treatment course, we did not observe BDNF increase regardless of clinical improvement in depressed patients. Regarding tDCS, BDNF plasma levels might not be a good candidate biomarker to evaluate depression improvement or be a predictor of response in patients treated with tDCS, as our results showed that BDNF increase was not necessary to induce clinical response. Finally, our findings do not support a relationship between BDNF and improvement of depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1144-1151
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Non-invasive brain stimulation
  • Sertraline
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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