What is it about?

This research delves into how chronic academic stress impacts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a key player in learning and memory, and the stress hormone, cortisol. We try to standardize how to measure BDNF in blood samples and examine its variability in both serum and plasma. We also look into whether academic stress causes shifts in the levels of BDNF and cortisol. The study involves voluntary participants, mostly students, who provide blood and saliva samples. Our investigation seeks to identify the factors ensuring accurate BDNF measurement, and to understand how academic stress might influence these crucial physiological aspects.

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Why is it important?

Understanding the relationship between academic stress and BDNF levels is crucial in studying how stress can affect our learning and memory capabilities. Additionally, by establishing a standardized method for collecting BDNF levels, we provide a foundation for future research to build upon, promoting reproducibility and comparability between studies. Recognizing the effects of academic stress on these parameters can pave the way for better mental health strategies among students.


As an author, I am profoundly aware of the importance of this research for our understanding of how chronic stress affects our cognitive processes and overall mental wellbeing. By setting standardized measurements for BDNF and salivary cortisol, we're not only establishing a strong basis for future studies but also helping in gaining a deeper insight into the physiological effects of academic stress. The choice of focusing on BDNF and cortisol was not incidental. These biomarkers are critical indicators of our brain health and stress response. In developing a reliable and standardized way to measure these, we're unlocking new possibilities in stress research. This could lead to more effective stress management strategies for students and for anyone facing chronic stress. The interplay between our daily experiences, like academic stress, and our biological responses is a fascinating area of research. This study is a small but significant part of that larger journey of discovery.

PhD Juan-Luis Castillo-Navarrete
Universidad de Concepcion

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and salivary cortisol levels in college students with different levels of academic stress. Study protocol, PLoS ONE, February 2023, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0282007.
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