Certain metabolites can be predictive indicators of people at risk of recurrent major depression, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine in collaboration with Dutch scientists.
Washington [US]:: Certain metabolites can be predictive indicators of people at risk of recurrent major depression, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine in collaboration with Dutch scientists.
The results were published in the online edition of Translational Psychiatry.
“This is evidence of a mitochondrial link in the heart of depression,” said Dr. Robert K. Naviaux, Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Pathology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
“It’s a small study, but it’s the first to show the potential of using metabolic markers as predictive clinical indicators for patients at greatest risk – and lower risk – for recurring attacks of depressive symptoms,” added Naviaux.
Recurrent major depression (in layman’s terms clinical depression) is a mood disorder that is characterized by several symptoms in combination: feelings of sadness or hopelessness, anger or frustration, loss of interest, trouble sleeping, anxiety, slowing down or thinking difficulties, thoughts of suicide, and unexplained physical ones Problems like back pain or headaches.
Major depression (MDD) is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 20.6 percent. This means that one in five Americans will have at least one episode in their lifetime. For patients with recurrent MDD (rMDD), the five-year risk of recurrence is up to 80 percent.
For their study, Naviaux and colleagues in the Netherlands recruited 68 subjects (45 women, 23 men) with rMDD who were in antidepressant-free remission, and 59 age- and sex-matched controls. After blood collection from patients in remission, patients were prospectively observed for two and a half years.
The results showed that a metabolic signature found in good health could predict which patients were most likely to relapse up to two and a half years in the future. The accuracy of this prediction was more than 90 percent. Analysis of the most predictive chemicals found that they belong to certain types of lipids (fats, including eicosanoids and sphingolipids) and purines.
Purines are made from molecules like ATP and ADP – the main chemicals used to store energy in cells, but also play a role in how cells communicate under stress called purinergic signaling.
The researchers found that in patients with rMDD, changes in specific metabolites in six identified metabolic pathways led to fundamental changes in important cellular activities.
“The results demonstrated an underlying biochemical signature in remitted rMDD that differentiates diagnosed patients from healthy controls,” said Naviaux.
“These differences are not visible by normal clinical judgment, but suggest that the use of metabolomics – the biological examination of metabolites – could be a new tool in predicting which patients are most prone to recurrence of depressive symptoms,” added Naviaux added.
The authors found that their initial results require validation in a larger study with at least 198 women and 198 men (99 cases and 99 controls each). (ANI)