Biomarkers in mood disorders research: Developing new and improved therapeutics

Mark J. Niciu, Daniel C. Mathews, Dawn F. Ionescu, Erica M. Richards, Maura L. Furey, Peixiong Yuan, Allison C. Nugent, Ioline D. Henter, Rodrigo Machado-Vieira, Carlos A. Zarate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Recently, surrogate neurobiological biomarkers that correlate with target engagement and therapeutic response have been developed and tested in early phase studies of mood disorders. Objective: The identification of biomarkers could help develop personalized psychiatric treatments that may impact public health. Methods: These biomarkers, which are associated with clinical response post-treatment, can be directly validated using multimodal approaches including genetic tools, proteomics/metabolomics, peripheral measures, neuroimaging, biostatistical predictors, and clinical predictors. Results: To date, early phase biomarker studies have sought to identify measures that can serve as “biosignatures”, or biological patterns of clinical response. These studies have also sought to identify clinical predictors and surrogate outcomes associated with pathophysiological domains consistently described in the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) new Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). Using the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist ketamine as an example, we identified changes in several domains (clinical, cognitive, and neurophysiological) that predicted ketamine’s rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in individuals with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar depression. Discussion: These approaches may ultimately provide clues into the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders and may have enormous impact Backon the development of novel therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-134
Number of pages4
JournalRevista de Psiquiatria Clinica
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Biomarker
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Drug development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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