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Studying the relationship between brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and post-stroke depression (PSD) may help determine the potential for depression in stroke patients at the earliest stage possible. Current research has identified changes in BDNF levels in PSD patients. Thus, this article was intended as a review of evidence with respect to changes in the expression of BDNF in patients with PSD by integrating extant findings. We conducted a search in the electronic databases PubMed, EMBASE, and PsycINFO (all records from January 1, 2000, through October 20, 2020) using keywords: "brain-derived neurotrophic factor OR BDNF," "post-stroke depression OR PSD," "expression level," "association," and "relationship." Returned articles were considered for inclusion in this review if they were empirical studies investigating the association between BDNF expression and PSD. Seven original papers were selected for review and revealed inconsistent findings. Five out of seven studies reported a significant decrease in BDNF levels in PSD patients at a certain stage (most likely the early stage) of stroke after admission, whereas the other two showed contrasting findings. Overall, this review reveals associations between changes in serum BDNF levels and depression following stroke. Whether serum BDNF levels, especially in the early phase of stroke, can be a potentially effective biomarker for predicting the risk of subsequent PSD development is still open to debate.



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biomarker, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, depression, post-stroke depression, stroke