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Objective: The aim of this study was to identify potential differences in serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF) and neurotrophin-3 (NTF3) levels in adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) compared to healthy controls. The possible relationship between serum neurotrophin levels and suicidality in adolescents with MDD was also addressed.Methods: A total of 70 treatment-free adolescents with MDD and 40 healthy controls aged 11 to 19 years were enrolled. The severity of suicidality was determined using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, and the severity of depression and anxiety symptoms were evaluated by self-report inventories. Serum levels of neurotrophins were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.Results: The mean serum BDNF levels were significantly higher in adolescents with MDD than in control subjects; no significant difference was found between the groups for serum GDNF, NGF and NTF3 levels. No correlations were found between the levels of serum neurotrophins and the severity of depression or suicidality.Conclusions: The study results suggest that elevated serum BDNF levels may be related to MDD in adolescents. However, our findings did not support a role for neurotrophins in suicidality.Key pointsSerum BDNF levels were higher in adolescents with MDD than in controls.No significant alterations of serum levels of GDNF, NGF and NTF3 were evident in adolescents with MDD.Neurotrophin levels were not associated with suicidal ideation and behaviours.


Ayhan Bilgiç, Çağla Çelikkol Sadıç, İbrahim Kılınç, Ömer Faruk Akça. Exploring the association between depression, suicidality and serum neurotrophin levels in adolescents. International journal of psychiatry in clinical practice. 2020 Jun;24(2):143-150

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PMID: 32027188

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