Effects of deep repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on brain-derived neurotrophic factor serum concentration in healthy volunteers Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a noninvasive, safe and efficacious technique for treating various neuropsychiatric disorders, but its underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. A newly developed H-coil allows the stimulation of deeper brain regions. This study is the first to investigate the effects of deep high-frequency rTMS on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) serum concentrations in healthy volunteers. We aimed to evaluate the short-term effect of deep rTMS on BDNF serum concentrations. Methods: This was a double-blind, randomized deep high-frequency rTMS study using an H-coil on a cohort of 13 healthy volunteers (NCT01106365). The following stimulation protocols were applied: 18-Hz stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), 5-Hz stimulation of the primary motor cortex (MC) and sham stimulation in random order. Blood samples were obtained before, 30 min after and 60 min after each treatment. Results: The BDNF serum concentration decreased significantly after MC and PFC stimulation, but not after sham stimulation. Furthermore, BDNF serum level changes were associated with changes in individual alertness. Conclusion: Although BDNF serum concentrations do not necessarily correlate with BDNF levels in the cerebrospinal fluid or the brain, these results indicate an acute biological effect of deep rTMS on BDNF release, and demonstrate that this change correlates with alertness.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014