Effects of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on white matter microstructure in healthy adults.
Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012-11-07; 38(3): 525-532
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The BDNF Val(66)Met polymorphism, a possible risk variant for mental disorders,
is a potent modulator of neural plasticity in humans and has been linked to
deficits in gray matter structure, function, and cognition. The impact of the
variant on brain white matter structure, however, is controversial and remains
poorly understood. Here, we used diffusion tensor imaging to examine the effects
of BDNF Val(66)Met genotype on white matter microstructure in a sample of 85
healthy Caucasian adults. We demonstrate decreases of fractional anisotropy and
widespread increases in radial diffusivity in Val/Val homozygotes compared with
Met-allele carriers, particularly in prefrontal and occipital pathways. These
data provide an independent confirmation of prior imaging genetics work, are
consistent with complex effects of the BDNF Val(66)Met polymorphism on human
brain structure, and may serve to generate hypotheses about variation in white
matter microstructure in mental disorders associated with this variant.