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Neuropsychobiology. 2013;67(4):185-91. doi: 10.1159/000347082. Epub 2013 Apr 27.

Plasma amyloid-β levels in drug-resistant bipolar depressed patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy. a.piccinni@med.unipi.it



Alterations of plasma amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides have been related to a high risk for cognitive impairment and dementia. The present study aimed to measure plasma Aβ peptides (Aβ40, Aβ42) and the Aβ40/Aβ42 ratio in a sample of drug-resistant bipolar depressed patients, as well as to explore the possible correlation between biological parameters and clinical changes along an electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) course.


Aβ40 and Aβ42 were measured by means of an ELISA assay in 25 drug-resistant bipolar depressed patients before (T0) and 1 week after (T1) the end of ECT. The patients were clinically evaluated by means of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, 21-item (HRSD-21), the Mini-Mental State Examination, and the Clinical Global Impressions-Severity of Illness Scale.


Plasma Aβ levels and the Aβ40/Aβ42 ratio were similar at T0 and T1. The Aβ40/Aβ42 ratio correlated positively with the HRSD total score at both T0 and T1. At T0, a negative correlation was found between the Aβ40/Aβ42 ratio and the improvement of depressive and cognitive symptoms. Moreover, remitters (n = 9; HRSD ≤10) showed a significantly lower Aβ40/Aβ42 ratio at T0 than nonremitters.


The present data suggest that a low Aβ40/Aβ42 ratio might characterize a subgroup of depressed patients who respond to ECT, while higher values of this parameter seem to be typical of more severe cases of patients with cognitive impairment.

Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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