Diurnal alterations in circadian genes and peptides in major depressive disorder before and after escitalopram treatment
Background: Strong links exist between circadian disturbances and some of the most characteristic symptoms of clinical major depressive disorder (MDD). However, changes in the expression of clock genes or neuropeptides related to the regulation of circadian rhythm that may influence the susceptibility to recurrence after antidepressant treatment in MDD have not been investigated. Methods: Blood samples were collected at 4. h intervals for 24. h from 12 male healthy controls and 12 male MDD patients before and after treatment with escitalopram for 8 weeks. The outcome measures included the relative expression of clock gene mRNA (PERIOD1, PERIOD2, PERIOD3, CRY1, BMAL1, NPAS2, and GSK-3β), and the levels of serum melatonin, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and growth hormone (GH). Results: Compared with healthy controls, MDD patients showed disruptions in the diurnal rhythms of the expression of PERIOD1, PERIOD2, CRY1, BMAL1, NPAS2, and GSK-3β and disruptions in the diurnal rhythms of the release of melatonin, VIP, cortisol, ACTH, IGF-1, and GH. Several of these disruptions (i.e., PER1, CRY1, melatonin, VIP, cortisol, ACTH, and IGF-1) persisted 8 weeks after escitalopram treatment, similar to the increase in the 24. h levels of VIP and decreases in the 24. h levels of cortisol and ACTH. Conclusion: These persistent neurobiological changes may play a role in MDD symptoms that are thought to contribute to the vulnerability to recurrence and long-term maintenance therapy.