BDNF variants may modulate long-term visual memory performance in a healthy cohort

N. Avgan, H.G. Sutherland, L.K. Spriggens, C. Yu, O. Ibrahim, C. Bellis, L.M. Haupt, Ho Keung David Shum, L.R. Griffiths

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is involved in numerous cognitive functions including learning and memory. BDNF plays an important role in synaptic plasticity in humans and rats with BDNF shown to be essential for the formation of long-term memories. We previously identified a significant association between the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism (rs6265) and long-term visual memory (p-value = 0.003) in a small cohort (n = 181) comprised of healthy individuals who had been phenotyped for various aspects of memory function. In this study, we have extended the cohort to 597 individuals and examined multiple genetic variants across both the BDNF and BDNF-AS genes for association with visual memory performance as assessed by the Wechsler Memory Scale-Fourth Edition subtests Visual Reproduction I and II (VR I and II). VR I assesses immediate visual memory, whereas VR II assesses long-term visual memory. Genetic association analyses were performed for 34 single nucleotide polymorphisms genotyped on Illumina OmniExpress BeadChip arrays with the immediate and long-term visual memory phenotypes. While none of the BDNF and BDNF-AS variants were shown to be significant for immediate visual memory, we found 10 variants (including the Val66Met polymorphism (p-value = 0.006)) that were nominally associated, and three variants (two variants in BDNF and one variant in the BDNF-AS locus) that were significantly associated with long-term visual memory. Our data therefore suggests a potential role for BDNF, and its anti-sense transcript BDNF-AS, in long-term visual memory performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number655
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF
  • Genetics of memory
  • Human memory
  • Long-term visual memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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