Serum and plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in individuals with eating disorders (EDs): a systematic review and meta-analysis

Parnian Shobeiri, Sara Bagherieh, Parsa Mirzayi, Amirali Kalantari, Omid Mirmosayyeb, Antônio L. Teixeira, Nima Rezaei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is essential for neuronal survival, differentiation, development, and plasticity. Evidence suggests that fluctuations in peripheral levels (i.e., plasma or serum) of BDNF are associated with eating behaviors. Nevertheless, the findings are inconsistent. The purpose of this study is to determine if serum or plasma levels of BDNF are altered in individuals with eating disorders (EDs) compared to controls. Methods: We conducted a systematic search of the core electronic medical databases from inception to March 2022 and identified observational studies that compared individuals with EDs to controls without EDs on serum or plasma levels of BDNF. R version 4.0.4 was used for all visualizations and calculations. Results: The current meta-analysis comprised 15 studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Subjects with EDs (n = 795) showed lower BDNF levels compared to non-EDs controls (n = 552) (SMD: − 0.49, 95% CI [− 0.89; − 0.08], p-value = 0.01). Moreover, subgroup analysis was conducted based on the specimen (plasma and serum), which revealed no statistically significant difference in the levels of BDNF between the two subgroups (p-value = 0.92). Additionally, meta-regression results revealed that publication year, mean age of the individuals with EDs, NOS scores, and the number of individuals with EDs collectively accounted for 25.99% percent of the existing heterogeneity. Conclusion: Lower BDNF levels are associated with EDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • BDNF
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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