Depression is the most common cause of disability worldwide with a lifetime prevalence of close to 20% according to the World Health Organization. This condition affects as many as one in ten individuals at any given time.
The medical and non-medical costs associated with depression are estimated at nearly 300 billion per year in the United States alone.
New Study Results
In a recently published study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago have identified a biomarker in human platelets that tracks the extent of depression.
The research was based on previous studies findings that shown that humans and animal models that depression is consistent with decreased adenylyl cyclase, a molecule that is made in response to neurotransmitters like serotonin.
The study identified the cellular biomarker for translocation of Gs alpha from lipid rafts and can be identified through a blood test.
It included 49 individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) diagnose and 59 healthy controls at the initial visit. At the first visit, platelet samples obtained from MDD subjects revealed signiﬁcantly lower PGE1 activation of adenylyl cyclase activity than control. After that 19 individuals from the MDD group completed a 6-week antidepressant treatment trial. 11 of them were considered antidepressant responders and revealed a significant increase in PGE1-stimulated adenylyl cyclase compared to non-responders.
The researchers think that they will be able to use this test to determine if antidepressant therapies are working, as soon as one week after the initiation of the therapy.
At present physicians have to wait longer than that, even months to determine if antidepressant therapy is working and this test might be able to presage successful treatment.
Steven D. Targum, et al. A novel peripheral biomarker for depression and antidepressant response. 2022. Molecular Psychiatry; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01399-1.