New study detects biomarker for depression

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A biomarker in human platelets that can be used to measure depression severity was identified in a new study published in Molecular Psychology.

The study was led by Mark Rasenick, PhD, a professor of physiology, biophysics, and psychiatry at the University of Illinois Chicago. The study was based on previous findings that showed a correlation between depression and a decreased amount of the molecule, adenylyl cyclase, produced in response to neurotransmitters like serotonin and epinephrine. The study found a cellular biomarker for the translocation of the protein, Gs alpha, that enables the neurotransmitter to make adenylyl cyclase. The biomarker was obtained through a blood test, and it allowed researchers to detect depression levels as well as track responses to treatment.

Previous studies showed Gs alpha in patients who took antidepressants and had improved symptoms was out of the lipid raft. In contrast, patients on antidepressions that had no symptom improvement, had Gs alpha stuck in the raft. Researchers suggested the biomarker may be able to determine whether antidepressant are working within the first week of use by showing the Gs alpha location.

The study may have identified a new method for diagnosing depression, as well as tracking the success of medication, paving the way for better and faster treatment.