Summary of BDNF

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF, is a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the BDNF gene. BDNF is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors.

Neurotrophins are chemicals that help to stimulate and control neurogenesis, BDNF being one of the most active. (R) In the brain, BDNF is important for long-term memory (R), learning and brain repair. (R)

BDNF helps to support the survival of existing neurons and encourages the growth, regeneration and creation of new neurons and synapses. (R)

Some interesting bits on BDNF:
  • BDNF decreases significantly with age. (R)
  • BDNF suppresses food intake (R) and increases energy metabolism in obese diabetic animals (R).
  • In healthy humans, the fatter people are, the lower their blood BDNF. (R)
  • Blood levels of BDNF have been shown to be lower in humans with obesity and type 2 diabetes. (R)
  • Decreased levels of blood BDNF have been found in underweight women with anorexia. (R)
  • Increasing BDNF can potentially help a number of devastating brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, and Huntington's Disease (HD). (R)
  • BDNF increases after sleep deprivation. (R)
  • BDNF triggers deep sleep (R).
  • BDNF can even be thought of as a natural anti-depressant (R), and when levels fall depression can ensue (R).
  • BDNF levels are decreased in the brains of Huntington's patients, which might be partly responsible for the degenerative processes of the disorder. (R)
  • BDNF is important for heart and pancreas function (R, R2).
  • BDNF is important for our biological rhythms.
  • BDNF blood levels were correlated with romantic attachment, but only in women.  The higher the BDNF, the lower women scored on an avoidance test (ie, they were more friendly and likely to form bonds). (R)
  • BDNF may play a role in promoting social relationships  (R).

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The Function of BDNF

During development, promotes the survival and differentiation of selected neuronal populations of the peripheral and central nervous systems. Participates in axonal growth, pathfinding and in the modulation of dendritic growth and morphology. Major regulator of synaptic transmission and plasticity at adult synapses in many regions of the CNS. The versatility of BDNF is emphasized by its contribution to a range of adaptive neuronal responses including long-term potentiation (LTP), long-term depression (LTD), certain forms of short-term synaptic plasticity, as well as homeostatic regulation of intrinsic neuronal excitability.

Protein names

Recommended name:

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor

Short name:


Alternative name(s):


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Top Gene-Substance Interactions

BDNF Interacts with These Diseases


Substances That Increase BDNF

Substances That Decrease BDNF

Advanced Summary

Conditions with Increased Gene Activity

Conditions with Decreased Gene Activity