The Val66Met polymorphism of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is associated with psychiatric disorders and regional gray matter volume (rGMV) in adults. However, the relationship between BDNF and rGMV in children has not been clarified. In this 3-year cross-sectional/longitudinal (2 time points) study, we investigated the effects of BDNF genotypes on rGMV in 185 healthy Japanese children aged 5.7-18.4 using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analyses. We found that the volume of the right cuneus in Met homozygotes (Met/Met) was greater than in Val homozygotes (Val/Val) in both exams, and the left insula and left ventromedial prefrontal cortex volumes were greater in Val homozygotes versus Met homozygotes in Exam l. In addition, Met homozygous subjects exhibited higher processing speed in intelligence indices than Val homozygotes and Val/Met heterozygotes at both time points. Longitudinal analysis showed that the left temporoparietal junction volume of Val/Met heterozygotes increased more substantially over the 3-year study period than in Val homozygotes, and age-related changes were observed for the Val/Met genotype. Our findings suggest that the presence of 2 Met alleles may have a positive effect on rGMV at the developmental stages analyzed in this study.
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