JOURNAL ARTICLE

Interaction between BDNF Val66Met and childhood stressful life events is associated to affective memory bias in men but not women

Iris van Oostrom, Barbara Franke, Mark Rijpkema, Lotte Gerritsen, Alejandro Arias-Vásquez, Guillèn Fernández, Indira Tendolkar
Biological Psychology 2012, 89 (1): 214-9
22033217
Recent meta-analyses point towards a pathogenic role of the Val66Met variant of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in major depressive disorder, specifically in males. We investigated whether BDNF Val66Met shows a male-specific interaction with childhood stressful life events on affective memory bias, a cognitive susceptibility factor for depression. Healthy volunteers (n=430; 272 females and 158 males) were genotyped for BDNF Val66Met (rs6265) and completed the self-referent encoding task and a childhood stressful life events scale. BDNF Met carriers reporting childhood events tended to recall a lower proportion of positive words compared to Val/Val homozygotes reporting childhood events. Sex-specific analyses revealed that the BDNF genotype×childhood events interaction was significant in male participants and not in female participants. The results suggest that in males, BDNF Val66Met interacts with childhood life events, increasing the cognitive susceptibility markers of depression. In females, this effect may be independent of BDNF Val66Met.

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