Circadian rhythms in plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor differ in men and women

Sean W. Cain, Anne Marie Chang, Irma Vlasac, Archana Tare, Clare Anderson, Charles A. Czeisler, Richa Saxena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The measurement of circulating levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been proposed to be a marker of disease and an indicator of recovery. Thus, knowing the temporal pattern and influence of potential circadian rhythms is important. Although several studies have measured BDNF at different times of day, no studies have done so while controlling for potential masking influences such as sleep and activity. Further, no previous study has examined circadian rhythms within individuals. We examined circadian rhythms in plasma BDNF while minimizing masking from behavioral and environmental factors using a 30-h constant routine (CR) protocol. In a sample of 39 healthy adults, we found significant circadian rhythms in 75% of women and 52% of men. The timing of the acrophase of the BDNF rhythm, however, was unrelated to clock time in women, while it was related to clock time in men. These results indicate that the use of single-sample measures of plasma BDNF as a marker of disease will be unreliable, especially in women. Repeated plasma BDNF samples over a 24-h period within individuals would be needed to reveal abnormalities related to disease states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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