Serum glial fibrillary acidic protein and neurofilament light chain in treatment-naïve patients with unipolar depression.

Publication date: Oct 01, 2023

Unipolar depression has been associated with increased levels of glial dysfunction and neurodegeneration biomarkers, such as Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) and Neurofilament light chain (NfL). However, previous studies were conducted on patients taking psychotropic medication and did not monitor longitudinal associations between disease status and GFAP/NfL. Treatment-nacEFve patients with unipolar depression (n = 110) and healthy controls (n = 33) were included. GFAP/NfL serum levels were analyzed by Single Molecule Array at baseline and 3-month follow-up. The primary endpoint was GFAP/NfL levels in patients with depression compared with healthy controls. The secondary endpoint was the associations between GFAP/NfL with depression severity and cognitive function. The patients’ mean HAM-D17 score was 18. 9 (SD 3. 9) at baseline and improved by 7. 9 (SD 6. 8) points during follow-up. GFAP/NfL was quantified in all individuals. At baseline, the adjusted GFAP levels were -16. 8 % (95 % CI: -28. 8 to -1. 9, p = 0. 03) lower among patients with depression compared to healthy controls, while NfL levels were comparable between the groups (p = 0. 57). In patients with depression, mean NfL levels increased from baseline to follow-up (0. 68 pg/ml, p = 0. 03), while GFAP levels were unchanged (p = 0. 24). We did not find consistent associations between NfL/GFAP with depression scores or cognitive function. This largest study of serum NfL/GFAP levels in patients with depression did not support previous findings of elevated GFAP/NfL in patients with depression or positive associations with depression severity. Although limited by a small control group, our study may support the presence of glial dysfunction but not damage to neurons in depression.

Concepts Keywords
Biomarkers Biomarkers
D17 Biomarkers
Nfl Cognition
Psychotropic Depressive Disorder
Small Humans
Intermediate Filaments
Neurofilament light chain
Unipolar depression


Type Source Name
disease MESH unipolar depression

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