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Transl Psychiatry. 2011 Jun 21;1:e13. doi: 10.1038/tp.2011.12.

Gene expression biomarkers of response to citalopram treatment in major depressive disorder.

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McGill Group for Suicide Studies and Depressive Disorders Program, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.


There is significant variability in antidepressant treatment outcome, with ∼30-40% of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) not presenting with adequate response even following several trials. To identify potential biomarkers of response, we investigated peripheral gene expression patterns of response to antidepressant treatment in MDD. We did this using Affymetrix HG-U133 Plus2 microarrays in blood samples, from untreated individuals with MDD (N=63) ascertained at a community outpatient clinic, pre and post 8-week treatment with citalopram, and used a regression model to assess the impact of gene expression differences on antidepressant response. We carried out technical validation of significant probesets by quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR and conducted central nervous system follow-up of the most significant result in post-mortem brain samples from 15 subjects who died during a current MDD episode and 11 sudden-death controls. A total of 32 probesets were differentially expressed according to response to citalopram treatment following false discovery rate correction. Interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) was the most significant differentially expressed gene and its expression was upregulated by citalopram treatment in individuals who responded to treatment. We found these results to be concordant with our observation of decreased expression of IRF7 in the prefrontal cortex of MDDs with negative toxicological evidence for antidepressant treatment at the time of death. These findings point to IRF7 as a gene of interest in studies investigating genomic factors associated with antidepressant response.

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