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Blood test might predict how well a depressed patient responds to antidepressants
Date:12/15/2011

Loyola study supports the neurogenesis theory. It appears that escitalopram, the SSRI used in the Loyola study, jump-starts brain cells that have become inactive. This regeneration is fueled by VEGF. In the brain, VEGF stimulates the growth of blood vessels and works in other ways to keep brain cells healthy and active.

It appears that in patients with higher levels of VEGF, there was more regeneration, helping to reduce depression. Conversely, in patients with lower VEGF levels, there was less regeneration of brain cells and less relief from depression.

If the finding is confirmed by further studies, it could lead to a blood test that would help physicians tailor treatment. If, for example, a patient had low levels of VEGF, the physician might skip SSRIs and try alternative classes of antidepressants, such as bupropion, or alternative therapies, such as psychotherapy or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMG). These treatments are all available at Loyola University Medical Center.

Currently, a VEGF blood test would be quite expensive if it were performed for a patient. But the cost likely would come down significantly if a VEGF test were to become widely used, Halaris said.


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Contact: Jim Ritter
jritter@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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