Growth factors involved in neurogenesis and neuroplasticity could play a role in biological processes that drive depression recovery. Combined total sleep deprivation and morning light therapy (TSD + LT) can acutely reverse depressive symptoms, thus allowing to investigate the neurobiological correlates of antidepressant response. We tested if changes on plasma levels of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), S100 calcium binding protein B (S100-B), Stem Cell Factor (SCF), Insulin-like Growth Factor-Binding Protein 2 (IGFBP-2), Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-BB (PDGF-BB), and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) are associated with response to TSD + LT in 26 inpatients affected by a major depressive episode in the course of bipolar disorder. Regional grey matter (GM) volumes were assessed at baseline, and BOLD fMRI neural responses to a moral valence decision task were recorded before and after treatment. 61.5 % of patients responded to treatment. SCF plasma levels increased significantly more in responders, and correlated with GM volumes in frontal and parietal cortical areas. The pattern of change of SCF also associated with both GM volumes and changes of BOLD fMRI neural responses in the anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex. SCF is both a hematopoietic growth factor and a neurotrophic factor, involved in neuron-neuron and neuron-(micro) glia interactions, fostering neuronal growth and an anti-inflammatory milieu. We correlated SCF levels with antidepressant response and with functional and structural MRI measures in cortical areas that are involved in the cognitive generation and control of affect. SCF may be a candidate growth factor that contributes to neurotrophic and immune effects that are involved in the process of remission/recovery from depression.

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Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Department of Immunology

Benedetti, F., Poletti, S., Hoogenboezem, T., Locatelli, C., Ambree, O., de Wit, H., … Drexhage, H. (2016). Stem Cell Factor (SCF) is a putative biomarker of antidepressant response. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 11(2), 248–258. doi:10.1007/s11481-016-9672-y