The Relationship Between Plasma BDNF and Pain in Older Adults With Knee Osteoarthritis

Setor K. Sorkpor, Kelli Galle, Antonio L. Teixeira, Gabriela D. Colpo, Brian Ahn, Natalie Jackson, Hongyu Miao, Hyochol Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent cause of chronic pain and disability in people aged ≥45 years, with the knee being the most affected joint. Neurotrophic factors like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, have been shown to significantly affect chronic pain. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between resting plasma BDNF levels and clinical pain and quantitative sensory testing measures in older adults with knee OA pain. For this secondary analysis, a previously reported dataset was used comprised of older adults with knee OA who underwent quantitative sensory testing. A comprehensive generalized linear model (GLM) was built to understand the relationships between BDNF and important covariates, followed by the elastic net (EN) method for variable selection. GLM was then performed to regress BDNF levels against only the variables selected by EN. The mean age of the sample was 60.4 years (SD = 9.1). Approximately half of the participants were female (53%). Plasma BDNF levels were positively associated with heat pain threshold and the numeric rating scale of pain. Future mechanistic studies are needed to replicate and extend these findings to advance our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of BDNF in knee OA and other chronic pain conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-636
Number of pages8
JournalBiological research for nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF
  • osteoarthritis
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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