BDNF and development

Proposal details

Title: BDNF Val66Met, brain development and depression
Research Area(s): Adolescent Health
Brain Imaging
Background: Markers for a risk of clinically relevant juvenile depression are scarce, in particular with respect to brain development from childhood over adolescence to adulthood. Past research using the BrainNet platform showed that interactions between brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met and early life stress predicted relevant neurocircuitries and arousal pathways related to syndromal depressive symptoms in healthy adults. However, so far data investigating differences in Val66Met between healthy children/adolescent controls and patients with clinically confirmed major depression of the same age-group are not available, in particular because previous research focused on studies in adults and above all geriatric depression. Overall, as regards development the impact of age and brain maturation remains unclear.
Aims: We aim to examine structural, functional and resting state/functional connectivity MRI data of healthy children, adolescents and adult volunteers and patients with a confirmed diagnosis of major depression (medication-free) in the mentioned respective age-groups (children, adolescents, adults) in order to apply a dimensional approach.
Method: Data will also be grouped by presence brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF Val66Met. We expect that developmental changes in hippocampal volume interact with Val66Meth as regards development of depressive symptoms with increasing age.