PureGenomics® SNP Peek: BDNF

The SNP Peek series brings you concise, up-to-date information on genetic variations known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), which affect a significant percentage of patients. The SNPs featured in this series are clinically relevant, nutritionally actionable and validated by published research. Featuring one SNP at a time, the series will educate readers about prevalence, important research findings, targeted nutritional supplements and monitoring.

To apply this information in practice quickly and easily, visit PureGenomics.com.

SNP PEEK BDNF Val66Met (rs6265)

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neuroprotective protein that supports mood, memory and long-term brain health.1-5 BDNF plays vital roles in the survival, maintenance and growth of many types of neurons and is expressed in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex.6 These areas of the brain mediate the formation and retrieval of memories. BDNF also helps regulate the formation of new synapses as well as the maintenance of old ones and plays an important role in neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire itself).3


Figure 1. BDNF responds to numerous dietary and lifestyle factors.

Who is Affected?

Carriers of the Met (T or +) allele are more likely to have lower levels of BDNF than individuals with the Val (C or -) allele.7 The Met allele is most common in populations with Asian or European heritage and nearly absent from patients with direct African ancestry.8

Clinical Relevance:
  • Mood: Positive mood and emotional well-being are associated with higher levels of BDNF.1-2
  • Memory: Healthy levels of BDNF are important for synaptic plasticity and memory formation.9
  • Healthy Aging: In elderly individuals, healthy levels of BDNF are positively associated with cognitive function.5,10
The Research:
  • In a human clinical trial, Val allele carriers demonstrated superior episodic memory, hippocampal function and n-acetyl aspartate (an important amino acid for neuronal health) levels compared to carriers of the Met allele.4
  • The Val allele was associated with healthy cognitive function in aging females in a meta-analysis of 7548 subjects and 7334 controls.5
  • In men, the Val allele was associated with positive mood, according to a meta-analysis of 13,655 subjects.8
  • Minerals such as magnesium, zinc and lithium support healthy levels of BDNF.11-13
Diet & Lifestyle Recommendations
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise is one of the most effective strategies to support and maintain healthy levels of BDNF.14-16
  • Consume a diet rich in polyphenols: Polyphenols from fruits, vegetables, teas and spices support the expression of BDNF.17
  • Maintain a healthy stress response: Stress hormones moderate the expression of BDNF. Consider stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises and meditation.18-19
Pure Encapsulations® Products:
  • Magnesium (glycinate) offers a highly bioavailable source of magnesium.
  • Trace Minerals provides a blend of essential trace minerals (including zinc).
  • Lithium (rotate) or Lithium liquid delivers a low-dose of lithium, important for mood, memory and emotional wellness.
  • CurcumaSorb Mind includes a broad range of polyphenols from curcumin, green tea, pine bark, blueberry and grape extracts to support cognitive function and emotional wellness. In a preclinical study, a polyphenol blend from grape and blueberry (Neurophenol™) maintained BDNF levels in aging rats.20

Product selection should consider other factors, such as nutrient status (refer to suggested monitoring below), appraisal of mental/cognitive function, and other relevant information obtained through patient evaluation.

Assessment & Monitoring:
  • RBC magnesium reflects intracellular stores of this essential mineral, which is critical for healthy stress responses, cognitive performance and emotional wellness, irrespective of genotype.
  • Serum zinc or alkaline phosphatase are effective methods to assess and monitor zinc status.
  • Lithium status may be assessed through hair analysis.
To Learn More:

The following databases provide abstracts of published studies, scholarly reviews and other types of articles with reliable, up-to-date information. To retrieve all relevant published studies on BDNF, enter the accession number (rs6265) in the search field. Full text articles are available in open-access journals only.
PubMed: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
Google Scholar: scholar.google.com
SNPedia: SNPedia.com

About PureGenomics®

PureGenomics® is a platform combining educational tools, protocols, core products, and E-script—our electronic prescription service—with PureGenomics.com, our dynamic, practitioner-exclusive website application. PureGenomics.com is designed to help identify common genetic variations known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) that are clinically relevant and nutritionally actionable.

This unique platform makes it easy to TEST, TRANSLATE and TARGET SNPs with the right nutritional support, empowering practitioners with precision and confidence in the pursuit of optimal health for every patient.

Learn how to successfully implement PureGenomics® in your practice today!


Learn more in the PureGenomics® Mental Health & Memory Protocol.

1. Karege F, Perret G, Bondolfi G, et al. Decreased serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in major depressed patients. Psychiatry Res. 2002 Mar 15;109(2):143-8.
2. Lee BH, Kim H, Park SH, Kim YK. Decreased plasma BDNF level in depressive patients.J Affect Disord. 2007 Aug;101(1-3):239-44.
3. Herbert J, Ban M, Brown TO, et al. Interaction between the BDNF gene Val/66/Met polymorphism and morning cortisol levels as a predictor of depression in adult women. Br J Psychiatry. 2012 Oct;201(4):313-9.
4. Egan MF, Kojima M, Callicott JH, et al. The BDNF val66met polymorphism affects activity-dependent secretion of BDNF and human memory and hippocampal function. Cell. 2003 Jan 24;112(2):257-69.
5. Lin Y, Cheng S, Xie Z, Zhang D. Association of rs6265 and rs2030324 polymorphisms in brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene with Alzheimer’s disease: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 14;9(4):e94961.
6. Binder D and Scharfman H. Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor. Growth Factors. 2004 Sep; 22(3): 123–131.
7. Zakharyan R, Boyajyan A. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor blood levels are decreased in schizophrenia patients and associate with rs6265 genotypes.Clin Biochem. 2014 Aug;47(12):1052-5.
8. Verhagen M, van der Meij A, van Deurzen P. Meta-analysis of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism in major depressive disorder: effects of gender and ethnicity. Molecular Psychiatry (2010) 15, 260–271
9. Cunha C, Brambilla R, Thomas K. A Simple Role for BDNF in Learning and Memory? Front Mol Neurosci. 2010; 3: 1.
10. Hariri A, Goldberg T, Mattay V, et al. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor val66met Polymorphism Affects Human Memory-Related Hippocampal Activity and Predicts Memory Performance. J Neurosci. 2003 Jul 30;23(17):6690-4.
11. Pochwat B, Sowa-Kucma M, Kotarska K, Misztak P, Nowak G, Szewczyk B. Antidepressant-like activity of magnesium in the olfactory bulbectomy model is associated with the AMPA/BDNF pathway. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Jan;232(2):355-67.
12. Forlenza OV, De-Paula VJR, Diniz BSO. Neuroprotective Effects of Lithium: Implications for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Neurodegenerative Disorders. ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 2014;5(6):443-450.
13. Solati Z, Jazayeri S, Tehrani-Doost M, Mahmoodianfard S, Gohari MR. Zinc monotherapy increases serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels and decreases depressive symptoms in overweight or obese subjects: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Nutr Neurosci. 2015 May;18(4):162-8.
14. Kerling A, Kück M, Tegtbur U, et al. Exercise increases serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor in patients with major depressive disorder. J Affect Disord. 2017 Jun;215:152-155.
15. Griffin ÉW, Mullally S, Foley C, et al. Aerobic exercise improves hippocampal function and increases BDNF in the serum of young adult males. Physiol Behav. 2011 Oct 24;104(5):934-41.
16. Erickson KI, Voss MW, Prakash RS ,et al. Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Feb 15;108(7):3017-22.
17. Gomez-Pinilla F and Nguyen T. Natural mood foods: The actions of polyphenols against psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Nutr Neurosci. 2012 May; 15(3): 127–133.
18. Duman RS, Monteggia LM. A neurotrophic model for stress-related mood disorders. Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Jun 15;59(12):1116-27.
19. Murakami S, Imbe H, Morikawa Y, et al. Chronic stress, as well as acute stress, reduces BDNF mRNA expression in the rat hippocampus but less robustly. Neurosci Res. 2005 Oct;53(2):129-39.
20. Dal-Pan A, Dudonné S, Bourassa P, et al. Cognitive-Enhancing Effects of a Polyphenols-Rich Extract from Fruits without Changes in Neuropathology in an Animal Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017;55(1):115-135.