Swedish scientist offers a new marker for depression

For years now biopharma companies have been developing antidepressants that can boost levels of serotonin and noradrenaline. Now a Swedish investigator at Lund University says that inflammation--which can deplete serotonin-may be a root cause of depression and a new signpost for clinicians to observe.

Doctor Daniel Lindqvist from the university's psychoimmunology unit says that his work found that suicidal patients had "unusually high levels of inflammation-related substances--cytokines--in their spinal fluid. The levels were highest in patients who had been diagnosed with major depression or who had made violent suicide attempts, e.g. attempting to hang themselves." And that insight could open the door to new tests to identify the risk of depression and suicide as well as new therapies to treat an illness current therapies often fail to work on.

"It is easy to take and analyze blood and saliva samples. Cortisol and inflammation substances could therefore be used as markers for suicide risk and depth of depression", says Lindqvist. This kind of inflammation could be spread through influenza, an auto-immune disease like rheumatism or a serious allergy that leads to inflammation in the body, says the researchers. It could also be triggered by a certain genetic vulnerability.

- here's the release