Predicting relapse in schizophrenia: Is BDNF a plausible biological marker?

Anilkumar R Pillai, Nina R. Schooler, Diya Peter, Stephen Warwick Looney, Donald C. Goff, Alexander Kopelowicz, John Lauriello, Theo Manschreck, Alan Mendelowitz, Del D. Miller, Joanne B. Severe, Daniel R. Wilson, Donna Ames, Juan Bustillo, John M. Kane, Peter F Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Understanding the biological processes that underlie why patients relapse is an issue of fundamental importance to the detection and prevention of relapse in schizophrenia. Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a facilitator of brain plasticity, is reduced in patients with schizophrenia. In the present study, we examined whether decreases in plasma BDNF levels could be used as a biological predictor of relapse in schizophrenia. A total of 221 patients were prospectively evaluated for relapse over 30 months in the Preventing Relapse in Schizophrenia: Oral Antipsychotics Compared to Injectables: eValuating Efficacy (PROACTIVE) study. Serial blood samples were collected at a maximum of 23 time points during the 30-month trial and BDNF levels were measured in plasma samples by ELISA. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analysis indicated that BDNF was not a significant predictor of relapse, hospitalization or exacerbation. Regardless of treatment group (oral second generation antipsychotic vs. long-acting injectable risperidone microspheres), baseline BDNF value did not differ significantly between those who experienced any of the adverse outcomes and those who did not. While contrary to the study hypothesis, these robust results offer little support for the use of plasma BDNF alone as a biomarker to predict relapse in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-268
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • BDNF
  • Clinical trial
  • Relapse
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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