Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in patients with multiple sclerosis.



To determine the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the serum of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) to evaluate the potential of serum BDNF as a biomarker for MS.


Using a recently validated enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) we measured BDNF in patients with MS (pwMS), diagnosed according to the 2001 McDonald criteria and aged between 18 and 70 years, participating in a long-term cohort study with annual clinical visits, including blood sampling, neuropsychological testing, and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The results were compared with an age- and sex-matched cohort of healthy controls (HC). Correlations between BDNF levels and a range of clinical and magnetic resonance imaging variables were assessed using an adjusted linear model.


In total, 259 pwMS and 259 HC were included, with a mean age of 44.42 ± 11.06 and 44.31 ± 11.26 years respectively. Eleven had a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), 178 relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), 56 secondary progressive MS (SPMS), and 14 primary progressive MS (PPMS). Compared with controls, mean BDNF levels were lower by 8 % (p˂0.001) in pwMS. The level of BDNF in patients with SPMS was lower than in RRMS (p = 0.004).


We conclude that while the use of comparatively large cohorts enables the detection of a significant difference in BDNF levels between pwMS and HC, the difference is small and unlikely to usefully inform decision-making processes at an individual patient level.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View