The burden of depression, both from a societal and economic standpoint, ranks second only to ischemic heart disease. By the year 2020, the World Health Organization projects that depression will be the leading cause of disability worldwide. Antidepressant treatment is often ineffective and it is difficult to predict treatment responsiveness. This is especially troubling, since the effectiveness of a given treatment may not be obvious until 2 months after inception. We have developed model systems, using cultured cells, including those derived from depressed subjects who either responded or did not respond to antidepressants, to determine the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment through microscopy. We will also use these models to generate a predictive screening tool for antidepressant therapy. The proposed studies should help to identify molecular pathways for both depression and the actions of antidepressant drugs. Understanding these should reveal both biological markers for depression and potential new classes of compounds to treat this disorder.
Dr. Mark Rasenick