New blood test targets depression

Have not had a chance to read or think about this but wanted it to be available to you - as quite a few will have seen or heard news items which refer.

The full paper is here:

Absolute Measurements of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor and Interleukin-1-β mRNA Levels Accurately Predict Treatment Response in Depressed Patients


Annamaria Cattaneo PhD, Clarissa Ferrari PhD, Rudolf Uher MD, Luisella Bocchio-Chiavetto PhD, Marco Andrea Riva PhD, , Carmine M. Pariante MD, FRCPsych, PhD

DOI: pyw045 First published online: 11 May 2016

A very much lighter-weight version is available from the BBC here:

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8 Replies

  • Helvella,

    It appears to be directed at patients who don't respond to antidepressants, possibly due to high levels of inflammation preventing the drugs working properly. I doubt it will stop GPs writing antidepressant prescriptions for undermedicated hypothyroid patients :(

    A hypothesis that the wrong gut bacteria causes depression is currently being researched. If proven, it lends weight to the oft quoted mantra that all illness starts in the gut.

  • Although I was concentrating on driving, rather than listening, the impression I formed was that some people require higher doses of <almost any antidepressant they take> - and this research would help identify such people. The aim being to start higher and increase faster. Not, very sadly, to look at it all from a genuinely different point of view.

    Will now try to read and find out if that was the PR spin, journalistic rubbish, or what.

  • Helvella,

    In the Oxford Journals link it says that childhood and other trauma, for instance, cause inflammation and the inflammation blocks the pathway the drugs are supposed to use so higher and faster increases may be needed to overcome it. They haven't yet been able to determine whether one AD will be more effective than another in overcoming inflammation.

  • And has anyone here had their Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor and Interleukin-1-β mRNA levels tested? Ever?

    Would be interesting to know if these are in any way different in, for example, Hashimoto's.

  • Helvella,

    If they were I suspect it was in a research setting and neither my GP nor myself were aware of it.

    I wonder what response members will get if they demand their Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor and Interleukin-1-β mRNA levels are tested when their GP suggests they need antidepressants? :-D

  • But how do they know that their 140 volunteers actually have depression, not low T3, a vitamin deficiency etc, since there is no test for depression?

  • Helvella,

    This is interesting as I have been reading Kelly Brogan's book "A Mind Of Your Own" which explains possible depression causes as out- of -balance- chemicals encouraged by anything from gut flora to thyroid function and claims it is the inflammation as the root cause.

    As cytokines become elevated (inflammation) this can be a prediction of depression to come or depression already experienced but it is the trigger rather than the response.

    It has been found that even in bi-polar and postpartum depression, white blood cells (monocytes) can turn on pro-inflammatory genes leading to a release of cytokines and decreased cortisol sensitivity (which is the buffer against inflammation).

    Reduced cortisol sensitivity not only influences thyroid hormones but reduces the chance of overcoming the inflammation and so depression prolongs (along with crappy thyroid hormone levels ! !.. ) ...

    Knowing of this inflammation can make us more aware and investigate possible causes (without perhaps just taking antidepressants to cover the problem) and so encouraging a speedier recovery.

  • Any anti depressant will negate thyroxine. Beware as depression is a SYMPTOM of under active thyroid and there is little point in taking both anti-depressants and thyroxine.

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