Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism interacts with gender to influence cortisol responses to mental stress.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism has been associated with cortisol responses to stress with gender differences reported, although the findings are not entirely consistent. To evaluate the role of Val66Met genotype and gender on cortisol responses to stress, we conducted a 45-min mental stress protocol including four tasks and four rest periods. Blood cortisol was collected for assay immediately before and after each task and rest period. A significant two-way interaction of Val66Met genotype×gender (P=0.022) was observed on the total area under the curve (AUC), a total cortisol response over time, such that the Val/Val genotype was associated with a larger cortisol response to stress as compared to the Met group in women but not in men. Further contrast analyses between the Val/Val and Met group for each stress task showed a similar increased cortisol pattern among women Val/Val genotype but not among men. The present findings indicate the gender differences in the effect of Val66Met genotype on the cortisol responses to stress protocol, and extend the evidence for the importance of gender and the role of Val66Met in the modulation of stress reactivity and subsequent depression prevalence. Further studies and the underlying mechanism need to be investigated, which may provide an insight for prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies that target those at high risk.
Jiang, R; Babyak, MA; Brummett, BH; Siegler, IC; Kuhn, CM; Williams, RB
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