Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that works in the central and peripheral nervous system to promote nerve function and growth. It also works in the neurons of the brain both in forming neurons and in long-term memory formation.
What is BDNF?
BDNF stands for a brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It is a type of protein called a neurotrophin. BDNF works in several ways:
- BDNF encourages new neuronal growth from stem cells
- it protects neurons from injury and cell death
- it improves neuronal function (important in learning and mood)
As a protein that is essential for neuronal growth, BDNF is vital for neural plasticity and recovery after brain injury.[ref]
Essentially, BDNF is important for good cognition and nervous system function. You want plenty of BDNF to help your neurotransmitters function well.
Genetic variants can decrease the amount of BDNF that your body normally makes. These variants have been tied to a number of brain and nervous system-related issues.
For example, introversion and an increased risk of depression have been tied in with BDNF variants. Obesity risk is also increased for certain variants.
While genetics plays a role in your baseline BDNF production, lifestyle factors such as food, exercise, and sleep also play a big role in BDNF. Fortunately, there are ways to increase BDNF and mitigate the problems associated with the BDNF gene variants. (Lifehacks section below)
Studies on BDNF show:
- Chronic stress causes a decrease in BDNF.[ref]
- Low BDNF is linked to Alzheimer’s disease[ref] and Parkinson’s[ref][ref]
- People with depression usually have lower levels of BDNF.[ref][ref][ref]
- Mothers with postpartum or during pregnancy depression have low BDNF[ref], and older people with depression also have low BDNF.[ref]
- Low BDNF is linked to obesity.[ref]
BDNF Genetic variants:
Oh, no! You've reached the end of the Free Preview of this Member's Only Article.
Love what you're reading? Join as a Genetic Lifehacks member for full access to this article and more!
- being able to view your genetic data right in the articles ~no more looking up rs ids!~
- topic overview reports that visually show you which articles are relevant to your genes.
- awesome articles explaining your genes, lifehacks (solutions!) relevant to you, and the scientific research behind them.
- ad-free experience, no tracking and privacy is the no. 1 priority!
Already a member? Please log in below to read the rest of the article and view the lifehacks.