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Blood test accurately distinguishes depressed patients from healthy controls
Date:2/1/2012

, and the interaction between brain structures involved with stress response and other key functions. Those measurements are combined using a specific formula to produce a figure called the MDDScore a number from 1 to 100 indicating the percentage likelihood that the individual has major depression. In clinical use the MDDScore would range from 1 to 10.

The initial pilot phase of the study enrolled 36 adults who had been diagnosed with major depression at the MGH, Vanderbilt University or Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Mass., along with 43 control participants from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton, Mass. MDDScores for 33 of the 36 patients indicated the presence of depression, while only 8 of the 43 controls had a positive test result. The average score for patients was 85, while the average for controls was 33. A second replication phase enrolled an additional 34 patients from the MGH and Vanderbilt, 31 of whom had a positive MDDScore result. Combining both groups indicated that the test could accurately diagnose major depression with a sensitivity of about 90 percent and a specificity of 80 percent.

"It can be difficult to convince patients of the need for treatment based on the sort of questionnaire now used to rank their reported symptoms," says Bilello. "We expect that the biological basis of this test may provide patients with insight into their depression as a treatable disease rather than a source of self-doubt and stigma. As we accumulate additional data on the MDDScore and perform further studies, we hope it will be useful for predicting treatment response and helping to select the best therapies."

Papakostas adds, "Determining the true utility of this test will require following this small research study with larger trials in clinical settings. But these results are already providing us with intriguing new hints on how powerfully factors such as inflammation which we are learning has a major role in m
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Contact: Kristen Stanton
kstanton3@partners.org
617-643-3907
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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