Researchers have discovered that a change in location of a protein in the brain could serve as a biomarker for depression. If their discovery pans out, it could allow for a laboratory test which would not only identify patients with depression, but could also rapidly determine if a particular antidepressant was helping them.
According to study author Mark Rasenick, a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine, a protein called Gs alpha, which mediates the action of neurotransmitters, is found in areas where it is less effective in depressed people. When people take antidepressants, the Gs alpha protein moves to areas where it can better help facilitate the action of neurotransmitters.
The implication of this finding, says Rasenick, is that "we will be able to tell you if you are depressed and more importantly, whether you are responding to the chosen antidepressant therapy."
Having a rapid method for determining whether an antidepressant is having an effect could be a real boon for patients, who often must wait several weeks to see if a particular antidepressant will benefit them.
Rasenick and his colleagues are already working on research to confirm and expand upon their findings.
The study appears in the March 12 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.