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Growth factors and neurotrophins in patients with stress-related exhaustion disorder

Journal article
Authors Anna Sjörsa Dhlman
Kaj Blennow
Henrik Zetterberg
Kristina Glise
Ingibjörg H Jonsdottir
Published in Psychoneuroendocrinology
Volume 109
ISSN 0306-4530
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Language en
Keywords Burnout, Exhaustion, Growth factor, Neurotrophic model, Neurotrophin, Stress
Subject categories Neurosciences, Endocrinology


© 2019 The Authors Growth factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epidermal growth factor (EGF), and neurotrophic factors, including brain-derived neurotophic factor (BDNF), have attracted attention in studies of the biological effects of long-term stress exposure due to their neuroprotective roles. This study investigated whether circulating levels of EGF, VEGF and BDNF were altered in individuals with stress-related exhaustion disorder. Forty patients diagnosed with exhaustion disorder and 40 healthy subjects (50% women) provided fasting blood samples for analysis of EGF, VEGF, and BDNF in plasma. We found significantly lower levels of EGF, VEGF, and BDNF in patients with ED compared to healthy controls. This pattern was seen in both male and female patients. Given the important roles of BDNF and VEGF for brain plasticity and neurogenesis, decreased levels after long-term stress exposure could indicate increased risk of neuronal damage and cognitive impairments in this patient group.

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