Objective: Thus far, no objective measure has been developed to evaluate tinnitus severity. There is a close relationship between tinnitus and depression, in which brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has a pathophysiological role. To determine whether BDNF levels could be used to evaluate tinnitus severity, we evaluated plasma BDNF levels in patients with tinnitus. Methods: Plasma BDNF levels were measured in 43 tinnitus patients and 30 healthy control patients. The severities of tinnitus, depression, and anxiety were measured using the tinnitus handicap inventory (THI) and the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS), respectively. Patients with tinnitus were divided into 2 groups depending on their THI scores: mildly handicapped (<36) and severely handicapped (>38). We also divided our subjects into 2 groups depending on the HADS score, which represents patient mood, including depression and anxiety. Results: Plasma BDNF levels were significantly higher in the mildly handicapped group than in the severely handicapped and control groups (P< 0.01). Patients with HADS scores of ≤14 had significantly lower THI scores (P< 0.05) and higher BDNF levels (P< 0.01). Conclusions: Our findings show for the first time that plasma BDNF levels vary with the severity of tinnitus, suggesting that plasma BDNF level is a useful tool for objective evaluation of tinnitus.
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