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Neurosci Lett. 2007 May 7;417(3):322-5. Epub 2007 Feb 24.

Elevated plasma N-terminal ProBNP levels in unmedicated patients with major depressive disorder.

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Department of Applied Health and Behavioural Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.


There is considerable evidence that cardiovascular diseases are more prevalent in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Secretion of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) increases in several cardiac illnesses, making this neurohormone a reliable diagnostic and prognostic biomarker of cardiovascular risk. We measured plasma NT-proBNP levels in the following three groups of subjects free of overt cardiovascular disease: unmedicated patients with MDD (n=40), unmedicated patients with schizophrenia (n=44), and normal control subjects (n=42). The severity of depressive symptoms was rated using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD). Plasma NT-proBNP levels were assayed by ELISA. Plasma NT-proBNP levels were significantly higher in the MDD group (median: 217.1 pmol/L; interquartile range: 179.4-277.1 pmol/L) than in patients with schizophrenia (175.7 pmol/L [139.0-218.9]; P<0.05) or in the control group (158.9 pmol/L [98.3-212.1]; P<0.001). Among patients with MDD, there was a significant positive correlation (Spearman's rank correlation=0.422, P=0.008) between plasma NT-proBNP and HAMD scores. Altogether, our results indicate that elevated NT-proBNP levels may play a role in linking MDD with increased cardiovascular risk.

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