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Health Agencies Update
February 19, 2003

Genes and Memory

JAMA. 2003;289(7):833. doi:10.1001/jama.289.7.833-a

A gene variant inherited by one third of all individuals alters a brain growth factor and inhibits important memory tasks, according to a report published by researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is vital for neuronal health. The genetic variant encodes a slightly altered version of BDNF, replacing one valine amino acid with methionine. As a result of this single alteration, BDNF gets trapped inside the body of neurons and fails to reach the synapses, where its normal role is to help regulate memory, the researchers said.

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