Toronto, June 9 (IANS) For those suffering from depression, a tiny molecule present in humans can provide a marker for depression and help detect individuals who are likely to respond to antidepressant treatment.
According to research, levels of a small molecule - miR-1202 - found only in humans and in other primates are lower in the brains of depressed individual.
"We examined brain tissues from individuals who were depressed and compared them with brain tissues from psychiatrically healthy individuals. We identified that this molecule regulates an important receptor of the neurotransmitter glutamate," explained Gustavo Turecki, a psychiatrist at Douglas Institute and professor in faculty of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
The team conducted a number of experiments that showed that antidepressants change the levels of this microRNA.
"In our clinical trials with living depressed individuals treated with citalopram - a commonly prescribed antidepressant - we found lower levels in depressed individuals compared to the non-depressed individuals before treatment," Turecki added.
Clearly, microRNA miR-1202 increased as the treatment worked and individuals no longer felt depressed, researchers added.
"Although antidepressants are clearly effective, there is variability in how individuals respond to antidepressant treatment," Turecki noted.
The discovery may provide "a potential target for the development of new and more effective antidepressant treatments", he added.
The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.