Publication date: Jun 08, 2021
A combination of different risk factors, such as genetic, environmental and psychological factors, together with immune system, stress response, brain neuroplasticity and the regulation of neurotransmitters, is thought to lead to the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). A growing number of studies have tried to investigate the underlying mechanisms of MDD by analysing the expression levels of genes involved in such biological processes. These studies have shown that MDD is not just a brain disorder, but also a body disorder, and this is mainly due to the interplay between the periphery and the Central Nervous System (CNS). To this purpose, most of the studies conducted so far have mainly dedicated to the analysis of the gene expression levels using postmortem brain tissue as well as peripheral blood samples of MDD patients. In this paper, we reviewed the current literature on candidate gene expression alterations and the few existing transcriptomics studies in MDD focusing on inflammation, neuroplasticity, neurotransmitters and stress-related genes. Moreover, we focused our attention on studies, which have investigated mRNA levels as biomarkers to predict therapy outcomes. This is important as many patients do not respond to antidepressant medication or could experience adverse side effects, leading to the interruption of treatment. Unfortunately, the right choice of antidepressant for each individual still remains largely a matter of taking an educated guess.