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bdnf -brain derived neurotrophic factor
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Association analyses of 249,796 individuals reveal 18 new loci associated with body mass index.
Journal: Nature genetics
November/15/2010
Description

Obesity is globally prevalent and highly heritable, but its underlying genetic factors remain largely elusive. To identify genetic loci for obesity susceptibility, we examined associations between body mass index and ∼ 2.8 million SNPs in up to 123,865 individuals with targeted follow up of 42 SNPs in up to 125,931 additional individuals. We confirmed 14 known obesity susceptibility loci and identified 18 new loci associated with body mass index (P < 5 × 10⁻⁸), one of which includes a copy number variant near GPRC5B. Some loci (at MC4R, POMC, SH2B1 and BDNF) map near key hypothalamic regulators of energy balance, and one of these loci is near GIPR, an incretin receptor. Furthermore, genes in other newly associated loci may provide new insights into human body weight regulation.

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Pubmed
The BDNF val66met polymorphism affects activity-dependent secretion of BDNF and human memory and hippocampal function.
Journal: Cell
February/13/2003
Description

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) modulates hippocampal plasticity and hippocampal-dependent memory in cell models and in animals. We examined the effects of a valine (val) to methionine (met) substitution in the 5' pro-region of the human BDNF protein. In human subjects, the met allele was associated with poorer episodic memory, abnormal hippocampal activation assayed with fMRI, and lower hippocampal n-acetyl aspartate (NAA), assayed with MRI spectroscopy. Neurons transfected with met-BDNF-GFP showed lower depolarization-induced secretion, while constitutive secretion was unchanged. Furthermore, met-BDNF-GFP failed to localize to secretory granules or synapses. These results demonstrate a role for BDNF and its val/met polymorphism in human memory and hippocampal function and suggest val/met exerts these effects by impacting intracellular trafficking and activity-dependent secretion of BDNF.

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Pubmed
Essential role of BDNF in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway in social defeat stress.
Journal: Science (New York, N.Y.)
February/16/2006
Description

Mice experiencing repeated aggression develop a long-lasting aversion to social contact, which can be normalized by chronic, but not acute, administration of antidepressant. Using viral-mediated, mesolimbic dopamine pathway-specific knockdown of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), we showed that BDNF is required for the development of this experience-dependent social aversion. Gene profiling in the nucleus accumbens indicates that local knockdown of BDNF obliterates most of the effects of repeated aggression on gene expression within this circuit, with similar effects being produced by chronic treatment with antidepressant. These results establish an essential role for BDNF in mediating long-term neural and behavioral plasticity in response to aversive social experiences.

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Pubmed
Genome-wide association yields new sequence variants at seven loci that associate with measures of obesity.
Journal: Nature genetics
January/22/2009
Description

Obesity results from the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. To search for sequence variants that affect variation in two common measures of obesity, weight and body mass index (BMI), both of which are highly heritable, we performed a genome-wide association (GWA) study with 305,846 SNPs typed in 25,344 Icelandic, 2,998 Dutch, 1,890 European Americans and 1,160 African American subjects and combined the results with previously published results from the Diabetes Genetics Initiative (DGI) on 3,024 Scandinavians. We selected 43 variants in 19 regions for follow-up in 5,586 Danish individuals and compared the results to a genome-wide study on obesity-related traits from the GIANT consortium. In total, 29 variants, some correlated, in 11 chromosomal regions reached a genome-wide significance threshold of P < 1.6 x 10(-7). This includes previously identified variants close to or in the FTO, MC4R, BDNF and SH2B1 genes, in addition to variants at seven loci not previously connected with obesity.

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Pubmed
DNA methylation-related chromatin remodeling in activity-dependent BDNF gene regulation.
Journal: Science (New York, N.Y.)
December/7/2003
Description

In conjunction with histone modifications, DNA methylation plays critical roles in gene silencing through chromatin remodeling. Changes in DNA methylation perturb neuronal function, and mutations in a methyl-CpG-binding protein, MeCP2, are associated with Rett syndrome. We report that increased synthesis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in neurons after depolarization correlates with a decrease in CpG methylation within the regulatory region of the Bdnf gene. Moreover, increased Bdnf transcription involves dissociation of the MeCP2-histone deacetylase-mSin3A repression complex from its promoter. Our findings suggest that DNA methylation-related chromatin remodeling is important for activity-dependent gene regulation that may be critical for neural plasticity.

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Pubmed
BDNF from microglia causes the shift in neuronal anion gradient underlying neuropathic pain.
Journal: Nature
January/10/2006
Description

Neuropathic pain that occurs after peripheral nerve injury depends on the hyperexcitability of neurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Spinal microglia stimulated by ATP contribute to tactile allodynia, a highly debilitating symptom of pain induced by nerve injury. Signalling between microglia and neurons is therefore an essential link in neuropathic pain transmission, but how this signalling occurs is unknown. Here we show that ATP-stimulated microglia cause a depolarizing shift in the anion reversal potential (E(anion)) in spinal lamina I neurons. This shift inverts the polarity of currents activated by GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), as has been shown to occur after peripheral nerve injury. Applying brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mimics the alteration in E(anion). Blocking signalling between BDNF and the receptor TrkB reverses the allodynia and the E(anion) shift that follows both nerve injury and administration of ATP-stimulated microglia. ATP stimulation evokes the release of BDNF from microglia. Preventing BDNF release from microglia by pretreating them with interfering RNA directed against BDNF before ATP stimulation also inhibits the effects of these cells on the withdrawal threshold and E(anion). Our results show that ATP-stimulated microglia signal to lamina I neurons, causing a collapse of their transmembrane anion gradient, and that BDNF is a crucial signalling molecule between microglia and neurons. Blocking this microglia-neuron signalling pathway may represent a therapeutic strategy for treating neuropathic pain.

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Pubmed
Regulation of cell survival by secreted proneurotrophins.
Journal: Science (New York, N.Y.)
December/30/2001
Description

Neurotrophins are growth factors that promote cell survival, differentiation, and cell death. They are synthesized as proforms that can be cleaved intracellularly to release mature, secreted ligands. Although proneurotrophins have been considered inactive precursors, we show here that the proforms of nerve growth factor (NGF) and the proforms of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are secreted and cleaved extracellularly by the serine protease plasmin and by selective matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). ProNGF is a high-affinity ligand for p75(NTR) with high affinity and induced p75NTR-dependent apoptosis in cultured neurons with minimal activation of TrkA-mediated differentiation or survival. The biological action of neurotrophins is thus regulated by proteolytic cleavage, with proforms preferentially activating p75NTR to mediate apoptosis and mature forms activating Trk receptors to promote survival.

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Pubmed
Derepression of BDNF transcription involves calcium-dependent phosphorylation of MeCP2.
Journal: Science (New York, N.Y.)
December/7/2003
Description

Mutations in MeCP2, which encodes a protein that has been proposed to function as a global transcriptional repressor, are the cause of Rett syndrome (RT T), an X-linked progressive neurological disorder. Although the selective inactivation of MeCP2 in neurons is sufficient to confer a Rett-like phenotype in mice, the specific functions of MeCP2 in postmitotic neurons are not known. We find that MeCP2 binds selectively to BDNF promoter III and functions to repress expression of the BDNF gene. Membrane depolarization triggers the calcium-dependent phosphorylation and release of MeCP2 from BDNF promoter III, thereby facilitating transcription. These studies indicate that MeCP2 plays a key role in the control of neuronal activity-dependent gene regulation and suggest that the deregulation of this process may underlie the pathology of RT T.

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Pubmed
Characterization of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in coding regions of human genes.
Journal: Nature genetics
July/18/1999
Description

A major goal in human genetics is to understand the role of common genetic variants in susceptibility to common diseases. This will require characterizing the nature of gene variation in human populations, assembling an extensive catalogue of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in candidate genes and performing association studies for particular diseases. At present, our knowledge of human gene variation remains rudimentary. Here we describe a systematic survey of SNPs in the coding regions of human genes. We identified SNPs in 106 genes relevant to cardiovascular disease, endocrinology and neuropsychiatry by screening an average of 114 independent alleles using 2 independent screening methods. To ensure high accuracy, all reported SNPs were confirmed by DNA sequencing. We identified 560 SNPs, including 392 coding-region SNPs (cSNPs) divided roughly equally between those causing synonymous and non-synonymous changes. We observed different rates of polymorphism among classes of sites within genes (non-coding, degenerate and non-degenerate) as well as between genes. The cSNPs most likely to influence disease, those that alter the amino acid sequence of the encoded protein, are found at a lower rate and with lower allele frequencies than silent substitutions. This likely reflects selection acting against deleterious alleles during human evolution. The lower allele frequency of missense cSNPs has implications for the compilation of a comprehensive catalogue, as well as for the subsequent application to disease association.

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Systematic meta-analyses and field synopsis of genetic association studies in schizophrenia: the SzGene database.
Journal: Nature genetics
July/21/2008
Description

In an effort to pinpoint potential genetic risk factors for schizophrenia, research groups worldwide have published over 1,000 genetic association studies with largely inconsistent results. To facilitate the interpretation of these findings, we have created a regularly updated online database of all published genetic association studies for schizophrenia ('SzGene'). For all polymorphisms having genotype data available in at least four independent case-control samples, we systematically carried out random-effects meta-analyses using allelic contrasts. Across 118 meta-analyses, a total of 24 genetic variants in 16 different genes (APOE, COMT, DAO, DRD1, DRD2, DRD4, DTNBP1, GABRB2, GRIN2B, HP, IL1B, MTHFR, PLXNA2, SLC6A4, TP53 and TPH1) showed nominally significant effects with average summary odds ratios of approximately 1.23. Seven of these variants had not been previously meta-analyzed. According to recently proposed criteria for the assessment of cumulative evidence in genetic association studies, four of the significant results can be characterized as showing 'strong' epidemiological credibility. Our project represents the first comprehensive online resource for systematically synthesized and graded evidence of genetic association studies in schizophrenia. As such, it could serve as a model for field synopses of genetic associations in other common and genetically complex disorders.

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