Plasma Brain-derived neurotropic factor levels are associated with aging and smoking but not with future dementia in the rotterdam study

Sara Galle*, Silvan Licher, Maarten Milders, Jan Berend Deijen, Erik Scherder, Madeleine Drent, Arfan Ikram, Cornelia M. Van Duijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) plays a vital role in neuronal survival and plasticity and facilitates long-term potentiation, essential for memory. Alterations in BDNF signaling have been associated with cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Although peripheral BDNF levels are reduced in dementia patients, it is unclear whether changes in BDNF levels precede or follow dementia onset. Objective: In the present study, we examined the association between BDNF plasma levels and dementia risk over a follow-up period of up to 16 years. Methods: Plasma BDNF levels were assessed in 758 participants of the Rotterdam Study. Dementia was assessed from baseline (1997-1999) to follow-up until January 2016. Associations of plasma BDNF and incident dementia were assessed with Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for age and sex. Associations between plasma BDNF and lifestyle and metabolic factors are investigated using linear regression. Results: During a follow up of 3,286 person-years, 131 participants developed dementia, of whom 104 had Alzheimer's disease. We did not find an association between plasma BDNF and risk of dementia (adjusted hazard ratio 0.99; 95%CI 0.84-1.16). BDNF levels were positively associated with age (B = 0.003, SD = 0.001, p = 0.002), smoking (B = 0.08, SE = 0.01, p = < 0.001), and female sex (B = 0.03, SE = 0.01, p = 0.03), but not with physical activity level (B = -0.01, SE = 0.01, p = 0.06). Conclusion: The findings suggest that peripheral BDNF levels are not associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1549
Number of pages411
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work described here is funded by European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program as part of the CoSTREAM project (Common mechanisms and pathways in Stroke and Alzheimer's disease,, grant 667375) and by the Netherlands Organization for the Health Research and Development (ZonMw) as part of the projects Memorabel (Dementia research and inno vation program - grant 733050303) and PERADES (Defining Genetic, Polygenic and Environmental Risk for Alzheimer's Disease using multiple powerful cohorts, focused Epigenetics and Stem cell metabolomics - grant 733051021).

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 - The authors. Published by IOS Press.


Dive into the research topics of 'Plasma Brain-derived neurotropic factor levels are associated with aging and smoking but not with future dementia in the rotterdam study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this