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Effect of BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on hippocampal subfields in multiple sclerosis patients
Molecular Psychiatry  (IF15.992),  Pub Date : 2021-10-14, DOI: 10.1038/s41380-021-01345-1
Ermelinda De Meo, Emilio Portaccio, Elio Prestipino, Benedetta Nacmias, Silvia Bagnoli, Lorenzo Razzolini, Luisa Pastò, Claudia Niccolai, Benedetta Goretti, Angelo Bellinvia, Mattia Fonderico, Antonio Giorgio, Maria Laura Stromillo, Massimo Filippi, Sandro Sorbi, Nicola De Stefano, Maria Pia Amato

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism was shown to strongly affect BDNF function, but its role in modulating gray matter damage in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients is still not clear. Given BDNF relevance on the hippocampus, we aimed to explore BDNF Val66Met polymorphism effect on hippocampal subfield volumes and its role in cognitive functioning in MS patients. Using a 3T scanner, we obtained dual-echo and 3DT1-weighted sequences from 50 MS patients and 15 healthy controls (HC) consecutively enrolled. MS patients also underwent genotype analysis of BDNF, neurological and neuropsychological evaluation. Hippocampal subfields were segmented by using Freesurfer. The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism was found in 22 MS patients (44%). Compared to HC, MS patients had lower volume in: bilateral hippocampus-amygdala transition area (HATA); cornus ammonis (CA)1, granule cell layer of dentate gyrus (GCL-DG), CA4 and CA3 of the left hippocampal head; molecular layer (ML) of the left hippocampal body; presubiculum of right hippocampal body and right fimbria. Compared to BDNF Val66Val, Val66Met MS patients had higher volume in bilateral hippocampal tail; CA1, ML, CA3, CA4, and GCL-DG of left hippocampal head; CA1, ML, and CA3 of the left hippocampal body; left HATA and presubiculum of the right hippocampal head. In MS patients, higher lesion burden was associated with lower volume of presubiculum of right hippocampal body; lower volume of left hippocampal tail was associated with worse visuospatial memory performance; lower volume of left hippocampal head with worse performance in semantic fluency. Our findings suggest the BNDF Val66Met polymorphism may have a protective role in MS patients against both hippocampal atrophy and cognitive impairment. BDNF genotype might be a potential biomarker for predicting cognitive prognosis, and an interesting target to study for neuroprotective strategies.