Objectives. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) causes an increased neurogenesis and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is important for neuronal survival. Many studies have shown, that, in depression, BDNF level is decreased, and that ECT can cause its increase. To investigate whether such a relationship occurs in drug-resistant depression (DRD), the purpose of this study was an assessment of the effect of ECT on serum BDNF level in patients with DRD.
Material and methods. The study was performed on 58 patients with DRD, 25 male, 33 female, aged 56 ±13 (mean ± SD), treated with ECT in 2013–2014. In 35 patients, all ECT sessions were performed with thiopental anesthesia (dosed 2–5 mg/kg). In 11 patients, ketamine was used as an anesthetic for 2nd and 3rd session (dosed 1.0–1.5 mg/kg), and in 12 patients, for sessions 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th (dosed 1.0–1.5 mg/kg). Serum BDNF levels were determined in the morning, before 1st session and after 7, 14 and 21 days of the ECT treatment.
Results. The levels of BDNF did not show significant differences in the course of ECT. This pertained to the whole group, male and female groups, recurrent depression and bipolar disorder groups, aged less than and above 55 years, with less than and above 30 points in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and undergone thiopental anesthesia only or two modes of thiopental interchanged with ketamine.
Conclusions. Obtained results indicate, that, in patients with DRD, which had received antidepressant and mood-stabilizing treatment, despite improvement in psychiatric status in the course of ECT, no significant changes in BDNF level were observed.