Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is involved in emotional and cognitive function. Low-BDNF levels occur in patients with depression, while proBDNF, a precursor of BDNF with the opposite physiological function, increases in major depression. However, it is unclear whether BDNF and proBDNF are associated with depression in the elderly. The present study aimed to investigate whether serum proBDNF and BDNF are associated with depressive state in community-dwelling elderly people.
This was a cross-sectional study conducted in Kurogawa-cho Imari, Saga Prefecture, Japan, in people aged ≥65 years. Depressive state was assessed using the Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form (Japanese version) (GDS). Of the 274 patients who undertook the GDS, those with a medical history affecting cognitive function were excluded, as were those with Mini-Mental State Examination score ≥ 24 or a Clinical Dementia Rating < 0.5. Further, we used delayed recall of 'logical memory A' from the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised (LMII-DR) for memory assessment.
The final sample consisted of 155 individuals (mean age 75.4 ± 6.8 years; 55 men, mean age 74.8 ± 5.9 years; 100 women, mean age 76.3 ± 7.1 years). In the GDS, 139 participants showed a normal score (0-4) and 16 showed depressive tendencies or depression (score: ≥ 5). After examining confounders of the GDS, logistic regression using categorical covariates showed a negative significant difference between depressive state and serum BDNF in the low-BDNF group only, with a positive correlation in the trend test. None of the analyses showed any association between GDS and proBDNF levels.
ProBDNF and BDNF levels seemed not to be associated with depressive state in community-dwelling elderly people.

© 2021 Japanese Psychogeriatric Society.