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Effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism on hippocampal volume change in schizophrenia



A functional polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene (Val66Met) has been associated with the risk for schizophrenia and volume differences in the hippocampus. However, little is known about the association between progressive brain volume change in schizophrenia and BDNF genotype. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between hippocampal volume change in patients with schizophrenia and healthy control subjects and BDNF genotype. Two structural magnetic resonance imaging brain scans were acquired of 68 patients with schizophrenia and 83 healthy subjects with an interval of approximately 5 yrs. Hippocampal volume change was measured and related to BDNF genotype in patients and healthy controls. BDNF genotype was not associated with hippocampal volume change over time in patients or healthy controls, nor could we replicate earlier findings on smaller hippocampal volume in Met-carriers. However, we did find a genotype-by-diagnosis interaction at baseline demonstrating smaller hippocampal volumes in patients homozygous for the Val-allele relative to healthy Val-homozygotes. In addition, irrespective of genotype, patients showed smaller hippocampal volumes compared with healthy controls at baseline. In summary, our results suggest that the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism is not associated with hippocampal volume change over time. Nevertheless, our findings may support the possibility that BDNF affects brain morphology differently in schizophrenia patients and healthy subjects. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.