Methylation of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Val66Met CpG site is associated with early onset bipolar disorder

Malik Nassan, Marin Veldic, Stacey Winham, Mark A. Frye, Beth Larrabee, Colin Colby, Joanna Biernacka, Fabio Bellia, Mariangela Pucci, Lars Terenius, Vladana Vukojevic, Claudio D´Addario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) rs6265 (Val66Met) Met allele is associated with early onset (≤ 19 years old) bipolar disorder (BD). Val66Met (G196A) creates a CpG site when the Val/G allele is present. We sought to study the methylation of the BDNF promoter and its interaction with Val66Met genotype in BD. Methods: Sex/age-matched previously genotyped DNA samples from BD-Type 1 cases [N = 166: early onset (≤ 19 years old) n = 79, late onset (> 20 years old) n = 87] and controls (N = 162) were studied. Pyrosequencing of four CpGs in Promoter-I, four CpGs in promoter-IV, and two CpGs in Promoter-IX (CpG2 includes G= Val allele) was performed. Logistic regression adjusting for batch effect was used to compare cases vs. controls. Analyses also included stratification by disease onset and adjustment for Val66Met genotype. Secondary exploratory analyses for the association of life stressors, comorbid substance abuse, and psychotropic use with methylation patterns were performed. Results: Comparing all BD cases vs. controls and adjusting for Val66Met genotype, BD cases had significantly higher methylation in promoter -IX/CPG-2 (p = 0.0074). This was driven by early onset cases vs. controls (p = 0.00039) and not late onset cases vs. controls (p = 0.2). Limitation: Relatively small sample size. Conclusion: Early onset BD is associated with increased methylation of CpG site created by Val=G allele of the Val66Met variance. Further studies could include larger sample size and postmortem brain samples in an attempt to replicate these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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