Preventing the Return of Fear Using Reconsolidation Update Mechanisms Depends on the Met-Allele of the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor Val66Met Polymorphism

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International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
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Asthana M.K.
Brunhuber B.
Muhlberger A.
Reif A.
Schneider S.
Herrmann M.J.
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© 2015 The Author.Background: Memory reconsolidation is the direct effect of memory reactivation followed by stabilization of newly synthesized proteins. It has been well proven that neural encoding of both newly and reactivated memories requires synaptic plasticity. Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been extensively investigated regarding its role in the formation of synaptic plasticity and in the alteration of fear memories. However, its role in fear reconsolidation is still unclear; hence, the current study has been designed to investigate the role of the BDNF val66met polymorphism (rs6265) in fear memory reconsolidation in humans. Methods: An auditory fear-conditioning paradigm was conducted, which comprised of three stages (acquisition, reactivation, and spontaneous recovery). One day after fear acquisition, the experimental group underwent reactivation of fear memory followed by the extinction training (reminder group), whereas the control group (non-reminder group) underwent only extinction training. On day 3, both groups were subjected to spontaneous recovery of earlier learned fearful memories. The treat-elicited defensive response due to conditioned threat was measured by assessing the skin conductance response to the conditioned stimulus. All participants were genotyped for rs6265. Results: The results indicate a diminishing effect of reminder on the persistence of fear memory only in the Met-allele carriers, suggesting a moderating effect of the BDNF polymorphism in fear memory reconsolidation. Conclusions: Our findings suggest a new role for BDNF gene variation in fear memory reconsolidation in humans.
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