Health In Focus
  • A new blood test that could help doctors prescribe the right anti-depressants for patients with depression
  • Test designed by researchers at Kings College London
  • Markers of mental illness were determined by the blood test
Blood Test to Detect Signs of Depression
Blood Test to Detect Signs of Depression

Mental health is a serious health condition that affects a considerable number of people worldwide. This condition affects the way the individual behaves, thinks and speaks and affects the ability to carry out a task.
  • Mental health affects people as early as 15 years of age with one in every 5 individual affected.
  • 1 in 20 people may be affected with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia.
  • The growth and behavior characteristics of teenagers sometime hide issues associated with mental illness.
  • According to WHO statistics for 2008, neuropsychiatric diseases contributed 11.8% to the global burden of disease.
  • As age advances, there is an increased risk for mental illness characterized by dementia and memory loss.
Mental health is important to the well being of an individual as it helps them function well. Most of the time, the symptoms associated with mental health illness are masked by other factors or associated conditions which lead to increase in severity of the condition.

Moreover, doctors prescribe anti-depressants based on certain signs and symptoms which are relatively ambiguous, leading to a trial and error method of drug prescription. A new study conducted by researchers Maffioletti E and colleagues from the Institute of Psychiatry at the King's College London has identified a simple blood test that could determine if an individual requires anti-depressants.

Mental health illnesses like severe mental disorder (MD) and bipolar disorder (BD) are illnesses that require anti-depressants. MicroRNAs or miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that post transcriptionally regulate the synthesis of protein by binding with target RNA.

The researchers studied the presence of these miRNAs in the blood of individuals with severe mental disorder and bipolar disorder. For the study, 20 individuals with MD, 20 individuals with BD and 20 healthy controls were recruited.

The study found that among MD patients the following 5 miRNAs were altered,
  1. hsa-let-7a-5p
  2. hsa-let-7d-5p
  3. hsa-let-7f-5p
  4. hsa-miR-24-3p
  5. hsa-miR-425-3p
The following 5 miRNAs were altered among patients with BD,
  1. hsa-miR-140-3p
  2. hsa-miR-30d-5p
  3. hsa-miR-330-5p
  4. hsa-miR-378a-5p
  5. hsa-miR-21-3p
2 miRNAs were altered for both MD and BD patients,
  1. hsa-miR-330-3p
  2. hsa-miR-345-5p
Bioinformatic prediction analysis was performed by the researchers to find the genes associated with the miRNAs. The genes were found to influence neuropsychiatric pathways which are affected by severe mental disorder and bipolar disorder.

Significance Of The Study
  • The miRNAs were dysregulated in mood disorders, opening the doorway to a better understanding of such neurological conditions.
  • The development of a blood test to detect severe mental disorder will remove ambiguity in care provided.
  • Monitoring mental illness will become easier
  • The study shows that mental health illness is not only psychiatric but the effects include changes to the whole body.
A diagnostic test will provide conclusive evidence for specialized medical care which could avert progression of the condition. After all, good mental health will aid the individual in leading a better quality of life

Reference :
  1. Peripheral whole blood microRNA alterations in major depression and bipolar disorder
Source: Medindia

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