BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes pose a global health burden. Therefore, clarifying the pathology of these risk factors is essential. Previous studies have found positive and negative associations between one or more cardiovascular risk factors and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) probably due to diverse methodological approaches when analysing peripheral BDNF levels. Moreover, only a few studies have been performed in youth populations. Consequently, the main objective of this study was to examine the association between serum BDNF and a composite z-score consisting of six cardiovascular risk factors. A secondary aim was to examine the associations between serum BDNF and each of the six risk factors.
METHODS: Four hundred and forty-seven apparently healthy adolescents between 11-17 years of age participated in this cross-sectional study. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), anthropometrics, pubertal status, blood pressure (BP), serum BDNF, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglyceride (TG), blood glucose and insulin were measured. Information about alcohol consumption and socio-economic status was collected via questionnaires. Associations were modelled using linear regression analysis.
RESULTS: Serum BDNF was positively associated with the composite z-score in the total study sample (standardized beta coefficient (std.β) = 0.10, P = 0.037). In males, serum BDNF was positively associated with the composite z-score (Std. β = 0.14, P = 0.034) and HOMA-IR (Std. β = 0.19, P = 0.004), and negatively associated with CRF (Std. β = -0.15, P = 0.026). In females, BDNF was positively associated with TG (Std. β = 0.14, P = 0.030) and negatively associated with waist circumference (WC) (Std. β = -0.16, P = 0.012).
CONCLUSION: Serum BDNF was positively associated with a composite z-score of cardiovascular risk factors. This association seems to be mainly driven by the association between TG, HOMA-IR and serum BDNF, and particularly for males. Further longitudinal research is warranted to determine the temporal relationship between BDNF and cardiovascular risk factors.