High BDNF serum levels are associated to good cognitive functioning in bipolar disorder

Ester Mora, Maria J. Portella, Gerard Piñol-Ripoll, Ricard López, Daniel Cuadras, Irene Forcada, Montse Teres, Eduard Vieta, Maria Mur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

16 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Elsevier Masson SAS Background: Neurotrophins such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), inflammation and oxidative damage may contribute to the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD) in terms of illness activity. To date, there is a lack of studies linking the cognitive impairment observed in BD with these neurobiological mechanisms. This study aimed to investigate the role of these neurobiological factors in clinical and cognitive outcomes in a sample of bipolar individuals. Methods: We measured serum BDNF, cytokines and oxidative stress markers in a sample of 133 individuals: 52 euthymic bipolar patients, 32 manic patients and 49 healthy controls. They were all assessed with a comprehensive cognitive battery. Sociodemographic and clinical data were collected. Multiple linear regression models were built to study associations of neurotrophins and inflammatory and oxidative measures with cognitive functioning. Results: BDNF levels were decreased in euthymic (p = 0.039) and manic (p < 0.001) individuals. Conversely, inflammatory (interleukin 6 (IL-6)) (p = 0.019) and oxidative stress (p = 0.003) measures were increased in bipolar individuals compared to controls. BDNF levels were associated with executive functioning (β = 0.01, p = 0.02) and verbal memory (β = 0.013, p = 0.005), together with other demographic variables. In particular, verbal memory was also associated with obesity (β=-0.04, p = 0.005). Neither inflammatory markers, oxidative stress markers nor other relevant clinical variables showed any association with cognitive outcome. Conclusions: Of all the peripheral neurobiological factors analysed, BDNF was the only one significantly associated with cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder individuals. This study emphasizes the role of BDNF not only across mood phases but also in cognitive functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-107
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Bipolar disorder
  • BNDF
  • Cognition
  • Neurobiological factor


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