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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Left hippocampus-amygdala complex macro- and microstructural variation is associated with BDNF plasma levels in healthy elderly individuals.

  • Author(s): Manna, Antonietta
  • Piras, Fabrizio
  • Caltagirone, Carlo
  • Bossù, Paola
  • Sensi, Stefano L
  • Spalletta, Gianfranco
  • et al.

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Deep brain gray matter (GM) structures are involved in several neurodegenerative disorders and are affected by aging. In this study, we investigated the potential relationship between levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a putative biomarker of age- and clinically relevant brain dysfunctions, and the presence of structural modifications that were evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging in six deep GM structures.


Volume changes and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) scalars were studied in the thalamus, putamen, hippocampus, caudate nucleus, amygdala and pallidum of a cohort of 120 healthy subjects. The cohort included young (18-39 years old), adult (40-59 years old) and elderly (60-76 years old) subjects.


No correlations were seen in the young and adult cohorts. In the elderly group, we observed reduced BDNF levels that correlated with increased DTI-based mean diffusivity occurring in the left hippocampus along with decreased normalized volume in the left amygdala.


These findings suggest that, in elderly subjects, BDNF may exert regional and lateralized effects that allow the integrity of two strategic deep GM areas such as the hippocampus and the amygdala.

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