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Evaluation of plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels and self-perceived cognitive impairment post-chemotherapy: a longitudinal study.

  • Author(s): Ng, Terence
  • Lee, Ying Yun
  • Chae, Jung-Woo
  • Yeo, Angie Hui Ling
  • Shwe, Maung
  • Gan, Yan Xiang
  • Ng, Raymond CH
  • Chu, Pat Pak Yan
  • Khor, Chiea Chuen
  • Ho, Han Kiat
  • Chan, Alexandre
  • et al.


Preliminary evidence suggests that changes in plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels may contribute to the occurrence of chemotherapy-associated cognitive impairment (CACI), and a previous study suggested that carriers of the BDNF Met homozygous genotype are protected from CACI.


This multicenter, prospective cohort study involved chemotherapy-receiving early-stage breast cancer (ESBC) patients. Self-perceived cognitive function was longitudinally assessed using the validated FACT-Cog (ver. 3) across three time points: Prior to chemotherapy (T1), during chemotherapy (T2), and at the end of chemotherapy (T3). Plasma BDNF levels were quantified using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Genotyping was performed using Sanger Sequencing.


A total of 51 chemotherapy-receiving ESBC patients (mean age: 52.6 ± 9.5 years) were recruited, and 11 patients (21.6%) reported subjective cognitive impairment post-chemotherapy. Overall, there was a reduction in median plasma BDNF levels over time (T1: 5423.0 pg/ml; T2: 5313.6 pg/ml; T3: 4050.3 pg/ml; p < 0.01). After adjusting for confounding factors, longitudinal analysis revealed that BDNF levels were associated with self-reported concentration deficit (p = 0.032). Carriers of Val/Val (p = 0.011) and Val/Met (p = 0.003) BDNF genotypes demonstrated a significant reduction in plasma BDNF levels over time; however, plasma BDNF levels were similar across all time points among Met homozygous carriers (p = 0.107).


There was a statistically significant change in BDNF levels post-chemotherapy in ESBC patients, and plasma BDNF levels were associated with self-perceived concentration deficit in patients receiving chemotherapy.

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