(HealthDay News) – A blood test which measures transcriptomic markers may be useful for distinguishing early-onset major depressive disorder (MDD) in adolescents.

Kathleen Pajer, MD, MPH, of Dalhousie University in Chicago, and associates used a novel approach to biomarker discovery for early-onset MDD. Results were combined from genome-wide transcriptomic profiles in the blood of two animal models of depression (genetic and environmental, stress-related). The resulting candidate blood transcriptomic markers were analyzed in a sample of 14 adolescents (aged 15–19 years) with MDD and 14 controls without MDD.

The researchers identified a combined set of 26 candidate blood transcriptomic markers from the animal models of depression. Based on analysis of this set of biomarkers in adolescents, 11 blood markers were found which differentiated cases from controls. In addition, a partially overlapping but separate panel of 18 transcripts was found which identified adolescents with MDD with or without comorbid anxiety. Four transcripts identified in the chronic stress animal model were associated with maltreatment scores in adolescents.

“These pilot data suggest that our approach can lead to clinically valid diagnostic panels of blood transcripts for early-onset MDD, which could reduce diagnostic heterogeneity in this population and has the potential to advance individualized treatment strategies,” the authors write.

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