DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke Medicine researchers have identified biochemical changes in people taking antidepressants but only in those whose depression improves. These changes occur in a neurotransmitter pathway that is connected to the pineal gland, the part of the endocrine system that controls the sleep cycle, suggesting an added link between sleep, depression and treatment outcomes.
The study, published on July 17, 2013, in the journal PLOS ONE, uses an emerging science called pharmacometabolomics to measure and map hundreds of chemicals in the blood in order to define the mechanisms underlying disease and to develop new treatment strategies based on a patient's metabolic profile.
"Metabolomics is teaching us about the differences in metabolic profiles of patients who respond to medication, and those who do not," said Rima Kaddurah-Daouk, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke Medicine and leader of the Pharmacometabolomics Research Network.
"This could help us to better target the right therapies for patients suffering from depression who can benefit from treatment with certain antidepressants, and identify, early on, patients who are resistant to treatment and should be placed on different therapies."
Major depressive disorder a form of depression characterized by a severely depressed mood that persists two weeks or more is one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States, affecting 6.7% of the adult population in a given year.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants for major depressive disorder, but only some patients benefit from SSRI treatment. Others may respond to placebo, while some may not find relief from either. This variability in response creates dilemmas for treating physicians where the only choice they have is to test one drug at a time and wait for several weeks to determine if a patient
|Contact: Rachel Harrison|
Duke University Medical Center