Impact of the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Val66Met Polymorphism on Levels of Hippocampal N-Acetyl-Aspartate Assessed by Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging at 3 Tesla

Alexa J. Stern, Antonina A. Savostyanova, Aaron Goldman, Alan S. Barnett, Jan Willem C van der Veen, Joseph H. Callicott, Venkata Mattay, Daniel Weinberger, Stefano Marenco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: This study was conducted to corroborate prior evidence of an effect of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) valine (val) to methionine (met) amino acid substitution at codon 66 (val66met) polymorphism on measures of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) containing compounds in healthy subjects. Methods: The NAA to creatine (Cre) ratio (NAA/Cre), NAA to choline (Cho) ratio (NAA/Cho), and Cho to Cre ratio (Cho/Cre) were measured in the left and right hippocampi, left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, occipital lobe, anterior cingulate, and white matter of the centrum semiovale of 69 carefully screened healthy volunteers utilizing proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) at 3 Tesla (T). Results: Val/met subjects exhibited significantly reduced levels of left hippocampal NAA/Cre and NAA/Cho compared with val/val subjects. This effect was independent of age, IQ, number of voxels, hippocampal volume, or gray matter content in the voxels of interest. Analysis of other brain regions showed no effect of BDNF genotype on NAA measures. Conclusions: We confirmed the association between the met-BDNF variant and reduced levels of hippocampal NAA found with a similar technique at 1.5T. The consonance of our results with prior findings adds to the evidence that the BDNF val/met genotype affects hippocampal biology with implications for a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)856-862
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Aging
  • choline
  • gray matter
  • healthy
  • hippocampal volume
  • IQ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this