Understanding the etiology and pathogenesis schizophrenia and depression is a major challenge facing psychiatry. One hypothesis is that these disorders are secondary to a malfunction of neurotrophic factors. Inappropriate neurotrophic support during brain development could lead to structural disorganisation in which neuronal networks are established in a nonoptimal manner. Inadequate neurotrophic support in adult individuals could ultimately be an underlying mechanism leading to decreased capacity of brain to adaptive changes and increased vulnerability to neurotoxic damage. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a mediator involved in neuronal survival and plasticity of dopaminergic, cholinergic, and serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system (CNS). In this review, we summarize findings regarding altered BDNF in schizophrenia and depression and animal models, as well as the effects of antipsychotic and antidepressive treatments on the expression of BDNF.
F Angelucci, S Brenè and A A Mathé. BDNF in schizophrenia, depression and corresponding animal models. Molecular Psychiatry 2005 January Institute of Neurology, Catholic University, Largo Gemelli, Rome, Italy.