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.
Vastag B. Genes and Memory. JAMA. 2003;289(7):833. doi:10.1001/jama.289.7.833-a