A biomarker for bipolar disorder

A recent trial performed by the Mayo Clinic (Minnesota) tried to identify protein markers indicative for bipolar disorder. This could be of great help in diagnosing patients and in distinguishing different forms of bipolar disorder. Patients with bipolar disorder, formerly known as ‘manic depression’, experience heavy changes in mood and activity levels. They vary from feeling great and extremely energetic to the darkest depression. These extreme mood swings can greatly affect the patients’ life and that of their surroundings. It is possible to treat bipolar disorder, but finding the right diagnosis is often a long process.

shutterstock_281830223At the moment, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is only based on interviews. A distinction is made between different types of bipolar disorder, depending on the duration and intensity of the different mood episodes. Brain scans or blood tests are sometimes involved, but only to rule out other diseases. The identification of a biomarker that is predictive for bipolar disorder would be a great development, especially because it would allow a quick diagnosis and an early start with medication, resulting in a better outcome for the patient.

The research team of Mayo Clinic investigated 272 different proteins in blood samples of 288 patients. Those patients had bipolar disorder I or II or unipolar depression. There were also control people without any mood disorder. 73 of the evaluated proteins differed between the study groups and six showed a significant difference between the bipolar I disorder and the control group. Because of the small scale of the trial, larger studies are needed to verify the results. However, findings of this trial are valuable for the direction of future studies.

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