New Study May Help Predict How Individuals Will Respond to Antidepressants

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Lab TestsAn association between inflammation and depression has been noted by researchers for years and years, but few have been able to explain the interaction. Now a team of researchers from around the globe report in AJP Advance that the association can be used to help predict treatment outcomes based on levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of systemic inflammation.

The study was conducted as part of the Genome-Based Therapeutic Drugs for Depression (GENDEP) study and compared the outcomes of 115 patients randomized to the SSRI escitalopram to 126 patients given tricyclic antidepressant nortriptyline.

Patients with naturally low baseline levels of CRP improved more on excitalopram, while those with higher levels were more reactive to nortiptyline, according to the measurements on the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, reported Rudolph Uher, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and colleagues.

“The effect size of the differential prediction met criteria for clinical significance, suggesting that the prediction can be meaningful in individual cases,” said Uher.

The study is still in early stages and must be replicated with larger sample sizes and other antidepressants, but these findings open the possibility of one day being able to accurately predict how patients will respond to specific treatments and hopefully limit the trial-and-error process of finding the right antidepressants for each individual.

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