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The brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene in suicidal behaviour: a meta-analysis

Clement C. Zai, Mirko Manchia, Vincenzo De Luca, Arun K. Tiwari, Nabilah I. Chowdhury, Gwyneth C. Zai, Ryan P. Tong, Zeynep Yilmaz, Sajid A. Shaikh, John Strauss, James L. Kennedy
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1461145711001313 1037-1042 First published online: 1 September 2012


Suicide is a prominent public health problem. Its aetiology is complex, and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated. We performed the first meta-analysis of the functional BDNF marker Val66Met (rs6265, 196G>A) in suicidal behaviour using data from 11 previously published samples plus our present sample (total n=3352 subjects, 1202 with history of suicidal behaviour. The meta-analysis including all 12 studies showed a trend for the Met-carrying genotypes and Met allele conferring risk for suicide (random-effects model p=0.096; ORMet-carrier=1.13, 95% CI 0.98–1.30, and random-effects model p=0.032; ORMet=1.16, 95% CI 1.01–1.32, respectively). Furthermore, we found the Met allele and the Met allele-carrying genotypes to be associated with history of suicide attempt (eight studies; allelic meta-analysis – random-effects model: p=0.013; fixed-effects model: p=0.006; genotypic meta-analysis – random-effects model: p=0.017; fixed-effects model: p=0.008). Taken together, the results from our study suggest that BDNF Val66Met is involved in suicidality. Further studies are required to elucidate its role in suicidal behaviour.

Key words
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
  • genetics
  • meta-analysis
  • schizophrenia
  • suicidal behaviour
  • suicide attempt
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