Tuesday June 25, 2019

Molecule Deficiency May Help Diagnose Severe Depression

LAC levels were also lower among those patients reporting a childhood history of abuse, neglect, poverty or exposure to violence

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Depression
Depression is a common mental disorder. Flickr

Scientists have identified a substance in blood as a biomarker for depression, a finding that could open a novel way to a new class of antidepressants that could have no side-effects and faster-acting functions than those in current use.

Depression is a common mental disorder, with more than 300 million people of all ages suffering from the disorder globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The findings showed that people with a particular type of depression have decreased blood levels of the molecule acetyl-L-carnitine (LAC), also widely available as a nutritional supplement in drugstores.

Those with severe or treatment-resistant depression, or whose bouts of depression began earlier in life, have particularly low blood levels of the substance.

LAC is a crucial mediator of fat metabolism and energy production throughout the body, plays a special role in the brain, where it works at least in part by preventing the excessive firing of excitatory nerve cells in brain regions called the hippocampus and frontal cortex.

The results are “an exciting addition to our understanding of the mechanisms of depressive illness”, said Natalie Rasgon, Professor at the Stanford University.

Depression
Those with severe or treatment-resistant depression, or whose bouts of depression began earlier in life, have particularly low blood levels of the substance.

“In patients with depression, something is causing a problem in the mechanisms related to the biology of LAC,” said Carla Nasca, from the Rockefeller University in New York City.

“And, surprisingly, the deficiency in LAC is even stronger in patients that don’t respond to standard antidepressants,” Nasca added.

The study, published in the journal PNAS, involved 20 to 70-year-old men and women, diagnosed with depression and, amid episodes of acute depression, and had been admitted for treatment.

The patients’ LAC blood levels were found to be substantially lower in both men and women, regardless of age.

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LAC levels were also lower among those patients reporting a childhood history of abuse, neglect, poverty or exposure to violence.

However, Rasgon cautioned against rushing to the store to pick up a bottle of acetyl-L-carnitine and self-medicating for depression. (IANS)

Next Story

Depression May Put Women at Risk of Chronic Diseases, Says Study

Women with both conditions — depression and chronic diseases — were more likely to come from low-income households, be overweight and inactive, smoke tobacco and drink alcohol

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depression
Depression has significantly increased the risk of early death in women. Wikimedia

Women who experience symptoms of depression, even without a clinical diagnosis, are at an increased risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, according to a study.

The study, published in the journal American Psychological Association Health Psychology, examined 7,407 middle-aged women (45-50 years) for over 20 years.

During the study period, 43.2 per cent women experienced elevated symptoms of depression and just under half the cohort were diagnosed or took treatment for depression.

Of the total, 2,035 or 63.6 per cent developed multiple chronic diseases.

“These days many people suffer from multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. We looked at how women progress in the development of these chronic diseases before and after the onset of depressive symptoms,” said Xiaolin Xu from the University of Queensland in Australia.

Depression
Depression is a common mental disorder. Flickr

“Experiencing depressive symptoms appeared to amplify the risk of chronic illness,” Xu said, adding that women suffering from depression were 1.8 times more likely to have multiple chronic health conditions.

“After women started experiencing these symptoms, they were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from multiple chronic conditions compared to women without depressive symptoms,” he added.

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Women with both conditions — depression and chronic diseases — were more likely to come from low-income households, be overweight and inactive, smoke tobacco and drink alcohol.

“Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and reducing harmful behaviours could help prevent and slow the progression of multiple chronic diseases,” Xu said. (IANS)