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ECTRIMS 2021 | The protective role of BDNF Val66Met against hippocampal atrophy and cognitive impairment in MS

Ermelinda De Meo, MD, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy, shares results from a recent study assessing the role of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism in cognitive functioning and hippocampal atrophy in multiple sclerosis (MS). BDNF contributes to brain plasticity and is involved in the response against brain damage. Its role in modulating brain damage in MS is currently unclear as previous studies have reported contradicting results suggesting both a protective and pathogenic role for this variant. Prof. De Meo explains that their study focused on the effect of this polymorphism on the hippocampus as BDNF is known to be heavily involved in processes occurring in this region. Results showed that BDNF Val66Met may have a protective role in patients with MS against damage on the hippocampal structure, and was associated with a better cognitive performance specifically in visuospatial memory. This interview took place at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) congress 2021.