New research from Rhode Island Hospital found that reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein in the brain that encourages growth of neurons, may be a trait marker for individuals with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) (seizures that are psychological in origin). The findings are published in the October 4, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Past studies have shown decreased levels of BDNF in the serum of patients with psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder and conversion disorders (a condition in which a patient displays neurological symptoms such as numbness or seizures when no neurological lesion or pathology is found). Children with epilepsy have been found to have increased levels of BDNF compared to healthy controls. Serum BDNF levels, however, have not been investigated in adult patients with epileptic seizures (ES). With this in mind, researchers from Rhode Island Hospital hypothesized that BDNF would differentiate between ES and PNES.
W. Curt LaFrance, Jr., MD, MPH, director of neuropsychiatry and behavioral neurology at Rhode Island Hospital, and assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology (research) at The Alpert Medical School of Brown University led the study of three groups of patients -- one group with confirmed PNES, one group with ES and one healthy control group. The patients were also screened for comorbid depression as well, as past studies have suggested that chronic antidepressant use increases serum BDNF in patients with depression. More than half (8 of 13) of the patients in the PNES group were diagnosed with mild depression and were taking psychotropic (antidepressant) medication.
LaFrance and his fellow colleagues from Brown University found decreased levels of serum BDNF in both the PNES and ES groups when compared to the healthy control group. They believe these findings are significant in that it would be expected that the PNES patients taking antidepressant medications would have an increased level of serum BDNF. There were no significant differences in the levels of serum BDNF among all the patients in the PNES group, whether they were taking antidepressants or not. As a result, they believe that the reduced levels of BDNF may be a biomarker for PNES.
LaFrance says, "While BDNF may play a similar role in the pathophysiology of depression and PNES, the differential response of serum BDNF to antidepressants in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures could highlight an important difference. The fact that antidepressants did not increase serum BDNF levels in our study and that there were no BDNF differences between patients with PNES who were depressed and those who did not have depression would suggest that serum BDNF might represent a trait marker of PNES. This could potentially be useful in understanding the pathophysiology of conversion disorders."
The study also found decreased levels of BDNF in adult patients with epileptic seizures, unlike the elevated levels found in children with ES. LaFrance comments, "This result is unexpected given the findings of elevated serum BDNF levels in children and the studies investigating BDNF concentrations in adult patients with ES."
LaFrance noted, "A model that may provide a unifying hypothesis on the decreased serum BDNF findings in both seizure groups may not be related to seizures -- it may be related to stress. Stress has been shown to lower BDNF, and a shared characteristic of patients with epilepsy or with nonepileptic seizures is fear of the next seizure. There may be great potential for biomarkers for PNES and for treatment response." Based on these findings, LaFrance and his colleagues propose that additional studies of BDNF levels take place to provide further insight into the role of BDNF in seizure disorders.
The study was funded by grants from Brown University and the Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation. Other researchers involved in the study with LaFrance include, Edward Stopa, MD, and Andrew Blum, MD, PhD, of Rhode Island Hospital and The Alpert Medical School, and Katherine Leaver, BS, and George D. Papandonatos, PhD, of Brown University.
Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital (www.rhodeislandhospital.org) in Providence, RI, is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the largest teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. The hospital receives nearly $50 million each year in external research funding and is home to Hasbro Children's Hospital, the state's only facility dedicated to pediatric care. It is a founding member of the Lifespan health system.
Nancy Cawley Jean | EurekAlert!
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences