Raul Felipe Palma-Álvarez, Elena Ros-Cucurull, Kristopher Amaro-Hosey, Laia Rodriguez-Cintas, Lara Grau-López, Margarida Corominas-Roso, Cristina Sánchez-Mora, Carlos Roncero
March 17, 2017
Several neurobiological factors are related to opiate-use disorder (OUD), and among them, neurotrophins have a relevant role. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a central neurotrophin involved in many neuronal processes, and it has been related to several psychiatric diseases and addictive disorders. BDNF can be measured in plasma and serum; its levels may reflect BDNF concentrations in the central nervous system (CNS) and, indirectly, CNS processes. Hence, peripheral BDNF could be a biomarker in clinical practice. This manuscript explores the findings about peripheral BDNF and OUD in humans. Opiates induce neurotoxicity in the CNS, which may be correlated with modifications in BDNF expression. Thus, basal levels of peripheral BDNF in OUD patients may be altered, which could be modified with abstinence. Also, opiates may modify epigenetic processes that may be associated with peripheral concentrations of BDNF, and in this line, withdrawal could reflect recovering processes in the CNS. Additionally, treatment modifies the peripheral concentrations of BDNF, but the clinical implications of those changes are yet not elucidated. No specific conclusion can be performed and more investigation in this area is necessary to elucidate the real potential of peripheral BDNF as a biomarker.