Pilot validation of blood-based biomarkers during pregnancy and postpartum in women with prior or current depression

E. E. Redei*, J. D. Ciolino, S. L. Wert, A. Yang, S. Kim, C. Clark, K. B. Zumpf, K. L. Wisner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is more common in women than in men, and evidence of gender-related subtypes of depression is emerging. Previously identified blood-based transcriptomic biomarkers distinguished male and female subjects with MDD from those without the disorder. In the present pilot study, we investigated the performance of these biomarkers in pregnant and postpartum women with prior major depressive episodes, some of whom had current symptomatology. The symptom scores of 13 pregnant and 15 postpartum women were identified by the Inventory of Depressive Symptoms (IDS-SR-30) at the time of blood sampling. Blood levels of the 20 transcriptomic biomarkers and that of estrogen receptor 2 (ESR2), membrane progesterone receptor alpha and beta (mPRα, mPRβ) were measured. In pregnant women, transcript levels of ADCY3, ASAH1, ATP11C, CDR2, ESR2, FAM46A, mPRβ, NAGA, RAPH1, TLR7, and ZNF291/SCAPER showed significant association with IDS-SR-30 scores, of which ADCY3, FAM46A, RAPH1, and TLR7 were identified in previous studies for their diagnostic potential for major depression. ASAH1 and ATP11C were previously also identified as potential markers of treatment efficacy. In postpartum women, transcript levels of CAT, CD59, and RAPH1 demonstrated a trend of association with IDS-SR-30 scores. Transcript levels of ADCY3, ATP11C, FAM46A, RAPH1, and ZNF291/SCAPER correlated with ESR2 and mPRβ expressions in pregnant women, whereas these associations only existed for mPRβ in postpartum women. These results suggest that a blood biomarker panel can identify depression symptomatology in pregnant women and that expression of these biomarker genes are affected by estrogen and/or progesterone binding differently during pregnancy and postpartum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number68
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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