Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an exercise-induced neurotrophin, is an important factor in memory consolidation and cognitive function. This study evaluates the association between plasma BDNF levels and frailty in community-dwelling older adults. Plasma BDNF levels were analyzed in a total of 302 individuals aged 70–84 years from the Korean Frailty and Aging Cohort Study. There were 30 (9.9%) participants with frailty. They were older and had a higher prevalence of dementia and depression than those without frailty. There were no differences in the proportion of male sex between the frail and non-frail groups. Plasma BDNF levels were significantly lower in participants with frailty than in those without frailty. The presence of frailty was significantly associated with plasma BDNF levels (odds ratio 0.508, 95% confidence interval 0.304–0.849) as well as age, hemoglobin, and the presence of dementia, and depression. After adjustment for confounding factors, the significant association between plasma BDNF and frailty was maintained (0.495, 0.281–0.874). This association remained consistent after exclusion of individuals with dementia, depression, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Plasma BDNF levels were significantly associated with frailty in community-dwelling older adults. Our study may suggest the possible role of BDNF as a novel biomarker of frailty.
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