Polymorphisms in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene influence memory and processing speed one month after brain injury

Thomas W. McAllister, Anna L. Tyler, Laura A. Flashman, C. Harker Rhodes, Brenna C. McDonald, Andrew J. Saykin, Tor D. Tosteson, Gregory J. Tsongalis, Jason H. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a role in cognition, as well as neural survival and plasticity. There are several common polymorphisms in the BDNF gene, one of which (rs6265) is an extensively studied non-synonymous coding polymorphism (Val66Met) which has been linked to cognitive performance in healthy controls and some clinical populations. We hypothesized that the Met allele of rs6265 would be associated with poorer cognitive performance in individuals with mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury, and that other polymorphisms in the BDNF gene would also affect cognition. Genotype at 9 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the BDNF gene, and measures of speed of information processing, learning, and memory were assessed in 75 patients with mTBI and 38 healthy subjects. Consistent with previous reports, the Met allele of rs6265 was associated with cognition (slower processing speed) in the entire group. Two other SNPs were associated with processing speed in the mTBI group, but both are in linkage disequilibrium with rs6265, and neither remained significant after adjustment for rs6265 status. Within the mTBI group, but not the controls, 4 SNPs, but not rs6265, were associated with memory measures. These associations were not affected by adjustment for rs6265 status. Polymorphisms in BDNF influence cognitive performance shortly after mTBI. The results raise the possibility that a functional polymorphism other than rs6265 may contribute to memory function after mTBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1118
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 10 2012



  • adult brain injury
  • genetic factors
  • head trauma
  • neuropsychology
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this

McAllister, T. W., Tyler, A. L., Flashman, L. A., Rhodes, C. H., McDonald, B. C., Saykin, A. J., Tosteson, T. D., Tsongalis, G. J., & Moore, J. H. (2012). Polymorphisms in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene influence memory and processing speed one month after brain injury. Journal of neurotrauma, 29(6), 1111-1118. https://doi.org/10.1089/neu.2011.1930