Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is mainly used to treat medication resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) patients, with a remission rate of up to 90%. However, little is known about the serum molecular changes induced by this treatment. Understanding the mechanisms of action of ECT at the molecular level could lead to identification of response markers and potential new drug targets for more effective antidepressant treatments. We have carried out a pilot study which analysed serum samples of MDD patients who received a series of ECT treatments over 4 weeks. Patients received only ECT treatments over the first two weeks and a combination of ECT and antidepressant drugs (AD) over the subsequent two weeks. Blood serum analyses were carried out using a combination of multiplex Human MAP® immunoassay and liquid-chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MSE) profiling. This showed that ECT had a predominant acute effect on the levels of serum proteins and small molecules, with changes at the beginning of ECT treatment and after administration of the ECT+AD combination treatment. This suggested a positive interaction between the two types of treatment. Changed molecules included BDNF, CD40L, IL-8, IL-13, EGF, IGF-1, pancreatic polypeptide, SCF, sortilin-1 and others which have already been implicated in MDD pathophysiology. We conclude that ECT appears to exert mainly acute effects on serum molecules.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2012.10.012, hdl.handle.net/1765/63154
European Neuropsychopharmacology
Department of Neuroscience

Stelzhammer, V., Guest, P., Rothermundt, M., Sondermann, C., Michael, N., Schwarz, E., … Bahn, S. (2013). Electroconvulsive therapy exerts mainly acute molecular changes in serum of major depressive disorder patients. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 23(10), 1199–1207. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2012.10.012