BDNF Val66Met polymorphism interacts with sleep consolidation to predict ability to create new declarative memories
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofJournal of Neuroscience ; vol. 36, no 32, p. 8390-8398.
Publisher(s)Society for Neuroscience
It is hypothesized that a fundamental function of sleep is to restore an individual's day-to-day ability to learn and to constantly adapt to a changing environment through brain plasticity. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is among the key regulators that shape brain plasticity. However, advancing age and carrying the BDNF Met allele were both identified as factors that potentially reduce BDNF secretion, brain plasticity, and memory. Here, we investigated the moderating role of BDNF polymorphism on sleep and next-morning learning ability in 107 nondemented individuals who were between 55 and 84 years of age. All subjects were tested with 1 night of in-laboratory polysomnography followed by a cognitive evaluation the next morning. We found that in subjects carrying the BDNF Val66Val polymorphism, consolidated sleep was associated with significantly better performance on hippocampus-dependent episodic memory tasks the next morning (β-values from 0.290 to 0.434, p ≤ 0.01). In subjects carrying at least one copy of the BDNF Met allele, a more consolidated sleep was not associated with better memory performance in most memory tests (β-values from -0.309 to -0.392, p values from 0.06 to 0.15). Strikingly, increased sleep consolidation was associated with poorer performance in learning a short story presented verbally in Met allele carriers (β = -0.585, p = 0.005). This study provides new evidence regarding the interacting roles of consolidated sleep and BDNF polymorphism in the ability to learn and stresses the importance of considering BDNF polymorphism when studying how sleep affects cognition.