Published on October 5, 2010 at 1:01 AM
LaFrance says, "While BDNF may play a similar role in the pathophysiology of depression and PNES, the differential response of serum BDNF to antidepressants in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures could highlight an important difference. The fact that antidepressants did not increase serum BDNF levels in our study and that there were no BDNF differences between patients with PNES who were depressed and those who did not have depression would suggest that serum BDNF might represent a trait marker of PNES. This could potentially be useful in understanding the pathophysiology of conversion disorders."
The study also found decreased levels of BDNF in adult patients with epileptic seizures, unlike the elevated levels found in children with ES. LaFrance comments, "This result is unexpected given the findings of elevated serum BDNF levels in children and the studies investigating BDNF concentrations in adult patients with ES."
LaFrance noted, "A model that may provide a unifying hypothesis on the decreased serum BDNF findings in both seizure groups may not be related to seizures -- it may be related to stress. Stress has been shown to lower BDNF, and a shared characteristic of patients with epilepsy or with nonepileptic seizures is fear of the next seizure. There may be great potential for biomarkers for PNES and for treatment response." Based on these findings, LaFrance and his colleagues propose that additional studies of BDNF levels take place to provide further insight into the role of BDNF in seizure disorders.