Nevin Manimala Statistics

Barking up the wrong biomarker? Correspondence to Shobeiri et al. (2022) “Serum and plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in individuals with eating disorders (EDs): a systematic review and meta-analysis”

J Eat Disord. 2022 Sep 14;10(1):141. doi: 10.1186/s40337-022-00662-2.


Despite intensified research efforts into the underlying (neuro-)biology of eating disorders (EDs), only few reliable biomarkers of diagnostic or prognostic value have been identified to date. One promising line of research has focused on the role of peripheral blood-based biomarkers as potential contributors to the complex pathophysiology of EDs. One such candidate marker is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin broadly implicated in neuronal plasticity and food-intake regulation. A growing number of studies have targeted BDNF in EDs; culminating in several recent well-powered and controlled case-control studies, comprehensive meta-analyses, and review articles. In the current correspondence, we aim to put the recent meta-analysis of Shobeiri et al. (J Eat Disord 10(1):105, 2022) into perspective and argue that the finding suggestive of lower BDNF concentrations across individuals with EDs in comparison to healthy controls needs to be interpreted with caution. While this finding is compatible with those from earlier meta-analyses, it may be biased due to several reasons; most notably by the applied study selection procedures, insufficient consideration of influential determinants of BDNF concentrations, and generalization of results across the ED spectrum without sufficient statistical power. Further controlled and comprehensive studies are necessary to establish BDNF as a clinically informative biomarker of EDs.

PMID:36104758 | DOI:10.1186/s40337-022-00662-2

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