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Biomarkers for depression: recent insights, current challenges and future prospects

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      Abstract

      A plethora of research has implicated hundreds of putative biomarkers for depression, but has not yet fully elucidated their roles in depressive illness or established what is abnormal in which patients and how biologic information can be used to enhance diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. This lack of progress is partially due to the nature and heterogeneity of depression, in conjunction with methodological heterogeneity within the research literature and the large array of biomarkers with potential, the expression of which often varies according to many factors. We review the available literature, which indicates that markers involved in inflammatory, neurotrophic and metabolic processes, as well as neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine system components, represent highly promising candidates. These may be measured through genetic and epigenetic, transcriptomic and proteomic, metabolomic and neuroimaging assessments. The use of novel approaches and systematic research programs is now required to determine whether, and which, biomarkers can be used to predict response to treatment, stratify patients to specific treatments and develop targets for new interventions. We conclude that there is much promise for reducing the burden of depression through further developing and expanding these research avenues.

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          Findings from family and twin studies suggest that genetic contributions to psychiatric disorders do not in all cases map to present diagnostic categories. We aimed to identify specific variants underlying genetic effects shared between the five disorders in the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium: autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. We analysed genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for the five disorders in 33,332 cases and 27,888 controls of European ancestory. To characterise allelic effects on each disorder, we applied a multinomial logistic regression procedure with model selection to identify the best-fitting model of relations between genotype and phenotype. We examined cross-disorder effects of genome-wide significant loci previously identified for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and used polygenic risk-score analysis to examine such effects from a broader set of common variants. We undertook pathway analyses to establish the biological associations underlying genetic overlap for the five disorders. We used enrichment analysis of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) data to assess whether SNPs with cross-disorder association were enriched for regulatory SNPs in post-mortem brain-tissue samples. SNPs at four loci surpassed the cutoff for genome-wide significance (p<5×10(-8)) in the primary analysis: regions on chromosomes 3p21 and 10q24, and SNPs within two L-type voltage-gated calcium channel subunits, CACNA1C and CACNB2. Model selection analysis supported effects of these loci for several disorders. Loci previously associated with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia had variable diagnostic specificity. Polygenic risk scores showed cross-disorder associations, notably between adult-onset disorders. Pathway analysis supported a role for calcium channel signalling genes for all five disorders. Finally, SNPs with evidence of cross-disorder association were enriched for brain eQTL markers. Our findings show that specific SNPs are associated with a range of psychiatric disorders of childhood onset or adult onset. In particular, variation in calcium-channel activity genes seems to have pleiotropic effects on psychopathology. These results provide evidence relevant to the goal of moving beyond descriptive syndromes in psychiatry, and towards a nosology informed by disease cause. National Institute of Mental Health. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Centre for Affective Disorders, Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London
            [2 ]South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
            Author notes
            Correspondence: Rebecca Strawbridge, Centre for Affective Disorders, Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, 103 Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AZ, UK, Tel +44 207 848 5305, Fax +44 207 848 0783, Email becci.strawbridge@ 123456kcl.ac.uk
            Journal
            Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat
            Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat
            Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
            Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
            Dove Medical Press
            1176-6328
            1178-2021
            2017
            10 May 2017
            : 13
            : 1245-1262
            5436791 10.2147/NDT.S114542 ndt-13-1245
            © 2017 Strawbridge et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

            The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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