The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials

Author: Patama Gomutbutra1,2, Nalinee Yingchankul1, Nipon Chattipakorn3, Siriporn Chattipakorn3,4, Manit Srisurapanont5
Author Information:
1 Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
2 The Northern Neuroscience Center, Faculty of Medicine Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
3 Center of Excellence in Cardiac Electrophysiology Research, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
4 Department of Oral Biology and Diagnostic Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
5 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychol
Date published: 2020 Sep 15
Other: Volume ID: 11 , Pages: 2209 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02209. , Word Count: 252


Background: This systematic review aims to answer three questions. First, how much do mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) affect peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)? Second, do mindfulness exercise-based interventions (exercise-MBIs) and mindfulness meditation-based interventions (meditation-MBIs) affect peripheral BDNF differently? Third, does the age of participants and the accumulative hours of MBI practice affect peripheral BDNF? Methods: We included randomized controlled trials comparing MBI and no intervention in adults (age >18 years) who reported peripheral BDNF. Database searches included PubMed, CINAHL, CENTRAL, PsyInfo, and Scopus. Two reviewers independently selected the studies and assessed the trial quality. We used the standardized mean difference (SMD) as the effect size index and conducted moderator analyses. Results: Eleven studies are included in this systematic review. Five studies applying exercise-MBI and three studies applying meditation-MBI are included in the meta-analysis (N = 479). The pooled effect size shows a significantly greater increase of peripheral BDNF in MBI groups compared to the control groups (k = 8, N = 479, SMD = 0.72, 95% CI 0.31-1.14, I 2= 78%). Significantly more increases of BDNF in the MBI groups are found in both subgroups of exercise-MBI and meditation-MBI. The effect sizes of both subgroups are not significantly different between subgroups (χ2 = 0.02, p = 0.88). We find no significant correlation between the effect sizes and the age of participants (r = -0.0095, p = 0.45) or accumulative hours of MBI practice (r = 0.0021, p = 0.57). Conclusion: The heterogeneous data of this small sample-size meta-analysis suggests that MBI can increase peripheral BDNF. Either exercise-MBI or meditation-MBI can increase peripheral BDNF.

Keywords: BDNF; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; meditation; mindfulness; neuroplasticity.

PMID: 33041891 PMCID: PMC7522212 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02209

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