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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Jul 1;35(5):1322-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2011.04.013. Epub 2011 May 3.

Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) serum concentration during electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in treatment resistant depressed patients.

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Genetic Unit, I.R.C.C.S. "San Giovanni di Dio", Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an angiogenic cytokine, which induces vasopermeability and facilitates neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity in the adult brain. Expression studies in animal models have reported that brain VEGF is regulated by electroconvulsive seizures (ECS), which are used in an experimental paradigm similar to clinical electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) a treatment for drug resistant depressed (TRD) patients. The aim of this study was to investigate putative modulations of ECT on VEGF serum levels in TRD patients. Nineteen patients were enrolled in the study; illness severity and VEGF serum contents were assessed before the treatment (T0), the day after the end of ECT (T1) and one month later the end of ECT (T2). ECT treatment improved depression symptomatology as measured by MADRS scores (p<0.0001). No changes occurred in serum VEGF between T0 and T1, whereas a significant increase was observed between T0 and T2 (p=0.042). Moreover a significant correlation was observed between the VEGF increase at T2 and the reduction in MADRS scores (p=0.049). This study is the first to evaluate putative modulations of serum VEGF induced by ECT in TRD patients.

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