Friday, December 16, 2011

Growth Factor in Blood May Predict Antidepressant Response

A blood test for a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may help predict response to antidepressant treatment, according to researchers at Loyola University Medical Center who presented their findings at the 2011 annual meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the 4th Annual Illinois Brain, Behavior, and Immunity Meeting.

The study found that among depressed patients who had higher than normal blood levels of VEGF, more than 85 percent experienced partial or complete relief from depression after taking escitalopram, while fewer than 10 percent of patients who had low levels of VEGF responded to the drug. Some scientists have proposed that SSRIs like escitalopram promote neurogenesis, the regeneration of cells in specific parts of the brain that have atrophied in depressed patients. The Loyola study supports the neurogenesis theory; in the brain, VEGF stimulates the growth of blood vessels and works in other ways to keep brain cells healthy and active.

Predicting who will best respond to antidepressant treatment is an important goal for individualizing therapy. For more information on this subject see Psychiatric News here.

(Image: Karuka/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.