It has been suggested that neurotrophins are involved in the etiopathogenesis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aimed to investigate whether there are differences in serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), and neurotrophin-3 (NTF3) levels between children with ADHD and healthy controls. A total of 110 treatment-naive children with the combined presentation of ADHD and 44 healthy controls aged 8-18 years were enrolled in this study. The severity of ADHD symptoms was determined by scores on the Conners' Parent Rating Scale-Revised Short and Conners' Teacher Rating Scale-Revised Short. The severity of depression and anxiety symptoms of the children were evaluated by the self-report inventories. Serum levels of neurotrophins were measured using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. The multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) revealed a significant main effect of groups in the levels of serum neurotrophins, an effect that was independent of age, sex, and the severity of the depression and anxiety. The analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) indicated that the mean serum GDNF and NTF3 levels of ADHD patients were significantly higher than that of controls. However, serum BDNF and NGF levels did not show any significant differences between groups. No correlations between the levels of serum neurotrophins and the severity of ADHD were observed. These results suggest that elevated serum GDNF and NTF3 levels may be related to ADHD in children.
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