Sex difference in the association of body mass index and BDNF levels in Chinese patients with chronic schizophrenia

Fang Yang, Keming Wang, Xiangdong Du, Huiqiong Deng, Hanjing Emily Wu, Guangzhong Yin, Yuping Ning, Xingbing Huang, Antonio L. Teixeira, João de Quevedo, Jair C. Soares, Xiaosi Li, Xiao E. Lang, Xiang Yang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Rationale and objective: Schizophrenia displays sex differences in many aspects. Decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels have been reported to be associated with high body weight or obesity as well as other psychopathological aspects in schizophrenia patients. This study aimed to explore sex differences in the relationship between serum BDNF levels and obesity in patients with chronic schizophrenia. Methods: We recruited 132 Chinese patients with chronic schizophrenia (98 males and 34 females) and compared sex differences in the body mass index (BMI), obesity, serum BDNF levels, and their associations. Psychopathology symptoms were assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). A regression model with various demographic and clinical variables was applied to predict the serum levels of BDNF. Results: Female patients had a higher rate of obesity and higher BMI, but lower BDNF levels than male schizophrenia patients. A significantly negative correlation was observed between BMI and BDNF levels only in female patients but not in male patients. The multiple regression model with demographic and clinical variables significantly predicted BDNF levels only in female patients, with a medium size effect. And only in female patients, BMI made a significant contribution to this prediction. Conclusion: Our results indicate significant sex differences in the obesity, BMI, BDNF levels, and their association in chronic patients with schizophrenia, showing a significant inverse correlation between BMI and BDNF levels only in female patients. Thus, sex needs to be considered when assessing the relationship between BDNF and metabolic syndromes in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-762
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 14 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Obesity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sex difference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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