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Researchers Discover Possible Biological Marker For Depression

Posted Oct 03 2008 12:52pm

This article reviews a recent finding that there may be a quick way to biologically assess whether an individual has depression, and (possibly more importantly), whether a particular antidepressant treatment is the "right fit" for that particular individual.  Money quote:

"We discovered that in depressed individuals a signaling protein is located in specific areas of the cell membrane called lipid rafts," he said. This protein, called Gs alpha, activates adenylyl cyclase, a link in signal transduction, and is responsible for the action of neurotransmitters such as serotonin."


"This new study shows that in depressed humans, Gs alpha protein is confined in lipid rafts, where it's less likely to mediate the action of neurotransmitters, and that antidepressants have the opposite effect," Rasenick said.

"In simple language -- we may be able to tell you if you are depressed and more importantly, whether you are responding to the chosen antidepressant therapy."

I'm not going to pretend to understand all of the neuroscience behind these recent discoveries.  However, I will say (again) that I think the ongoing progress towards understanding the biology of the brain, as well as the various characteristics that make us human, is both amazing and welcome.  Of course, as a psychologist, I'll also be interested to see if biology/environmental interacts will eventually be assessed through the use of some of these techniques...

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