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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008;10(4):439-51.

Predictors, moderators, and mediators (correlates) of treatment outcome in major depressive disorder.

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Depression Clinical Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a prevalent illness that is frequently associated with significant disability, morbidity and mortality Despite the development and availability of numerous treatment options for MDD, studies have shown that antidepressant monotherapy yields only modest rates of response and remission. Clearly, there is an urgent need to develop more effective treatment strategies for patients with MDD. One possible approach towards the development of novel pharmacotherapeutic strategies for MDD involves identifying subpopulations of depressed patients who are more likely to experience the benefits of a given (existing) treatment versus placebo, or versus a second treatment. Attempts have been made to identify such "subpopulations", specifically by testing whether a given biological or clinical marker also serves as a moderator, mediator (correlate), or predictor of clinical improvement following the treatment of MDD with standard, first-line antidepressants. In the following article, we will attempt to summarize the literature focusing on several major areas ("leads") where preliminary evidence exists regarding clinical and biologic moderators, mediators, and predictors of symptom improvement in MDD. Such clinical leads will include the presence of hopelessness, anxious symptoms, or medical comorbidity. Biologic leads will include gene polymorphisms, brain metabolism, quantitative electroencephalography, loudness dependence of auditory evoked potentials, and functional brain asymmetry.

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