Summary: Researchers discovered plasma protein-based biomarkers that could predict mental health risks in young people. These markers offer potential for early detection of mental health problems, which currently affect 10-20% of young people, largely undiagnosed and untreated.
Bioinformatic analyzes identified the biological processes associated with these proteins, opening the door to further advances in mental health care. This promising research could lead to a new era of early detection and prevention of youth mental health.
- The research identified 58 proteins significantly associated with mental health risks in youth, as assessed by self-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) scores.
- The biological processes associated with these proteins were found to include immune responses, blood coagulation, neurogenesis and neuronal degeneration.
- This pilot study paves the way for further exploration of these biomarkers as tools for early identification of individuals at risk for mental health problems.
Source: University of Eastern Finland
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have identified plasma protein-based biomarkers capable of identifying young people at risk of developing mental health problems.
The results were published in Nature Mental Health.
It is estimated that 10-20% of young people struggle with mental disorders, with the majority remaining undiagnosed and untreated.
There is an urgent need for new, early indicators of mental health problems, as they can revolutionize the early detection and, in the future, the prevention of mental health problems in young individuals.
In the study conducted in the research group of Professor Katja Kanninen, the researchers used self-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) scores to evaluate mental health risk in participants between 11 and 16 years of age.
Blood sample analyzes showed that 58 proteins were significantly associated with the SDQ score. Bioinformatic analyzes were used to identify the biological processes and pathways associated with the identified plasma protein biomarker candidates.
Key enriched pathways related to these proteins included immune responses, blood coagulation, neurogenesis and neuronal degeneration.
The study used a novel symbolic regression algorithm to create predictive models that best differentiate low and high SDQ score groups.
According to Professor Kanninen, plasma biomarker studies in mental disorders are a growing area.
“Changes in plasma proteins have previously been associated with various mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders and bipolar disorders.
“Our study supports these previous findings and further revealed that specific plasma protein changes could indicate a high risk of mental dysfunction in youth,” notes Professor Kanninen.
According to the researchers, this pilot study will be followed by more specific studies of the potential biomarkers for identifying individuals at risk for mental health problems, opening a new avenue for advancement in youth mental health care.
About this mental health research news
Author: May Vuorre
Source: University of Eastern Finland
Contact: Maj Vuorre – University of Eastern Finland
Image: Image credited to Neuroscience News
Original research: Open access.
“Plasma proteomics discovery of mental health risk biomarkers in youth” by Katja Kanninen et al. Nature Mental Health
Plasma proteomics discovery of mental health risk biomarkers in youth
It is estimated that 10-20% of young people experience mental health disorders, and most of them remain underdiagnosed and undertreated. Discovering new susceptibility biomarkers is therefore important to identify individuals at high risk of developing mental health problems and to improve early prevention.
Here we aimed to discover plasma protein-based sensitivity biomarkers in children/adolescents aged 11-16 years at risk of developing mental health problems.
Risk was evaluated on the basis of self-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) scores and plasma proteomic data were obtained for subjects participating in the Spanish WALNUT cohort study by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.
Bioinformatic analyzes were performed to identify the biological processes and pathways in which the identified biomarker candidates are involved; 58 proteins were significantly associated with SDQ scores.
The most prominent enriched pathways related to these proteins included immune responses, blood coagulation, neurogenesis and neuronal degeneration.
This exploratory study revealed several changes of plasma proteins associated with the SDQ score in youth, opening a new avenue to develop new susceptibility biomarkers to improve early identification of individuals at risk of mental health problems.