Scientists from Australia have learned to accurately determine the level of a protein called brain neurotrophic factor or BDNF. It is considered to be responsible for the renewal of neurons and serves as a kind of indicator of the "health" of the brain. The lower the BDNF level, the higher the likelihood of developing diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, as well as many mental disorders.
Doctors have tried to use BDNF to analyze the state of the human brain in the past, but have encountered conflicting results. Today it is already known that there are several forms of this protein - in addition to the mature version called mBDNF, there is also a precursor version of proBDNF. It turned out that they perform fundamentally opposite biological functions, so tests for the level of protein in general do not make sense.
The merit of Australian scientists is that they have learned to distinguish between these versions of the protein and to accurately measure the concentration of mBDNF. After the discovery, they conducted extensive testing with people suffering from a wide variety of brain diseases and mental disorders. The very first tests showed that the level of mBDNF does not in any way affect the propensity to suicide, of which it was previously suspected.
But with bipolar disorder and depression, the picture is different, there is a clear correlation with low protein levels. This was verified experimentally, when antidepressants were taken, the level of mBDNF increased, and the condition of the patients also improved. Scientists have come to the conclusion that a protein concentration of 12.4 ng / ml can serve as a reliable indicator of a person's mental illness. Such a simple and straightforward biomarker will help doctors make better diagnoses.