We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. Cookie Policy.

Features Partner Sites Information LinkXpress hp
Sign In
Advertise with Us

Download Mobile App

Study Advances Blood Tests for Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Feb 2024
Print article
Image: Researchers are making progress towards developing blood tests for psychiatric and neurological disorders (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: Researchers are making progress towards developing blood tests for psychiatric and neurological disorders (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

The lack of non-invasive methods for monitoring brain status is a significant challenge in psychiatric care. Using genetic material from human blood and lab-grown brain cells, researchers have now made advances in developing a blood test to detect brain-related changes associated with postpartum depression and other psychiatric and neurological disorders.

The research by investigators at Johns Hopkins Medicine (Baltimore, MD, USA) focused on tracing brain cell-derived mRNAs in the bloodstream. These extracellular vesicles (EVs), which are tiny sacs containing genetic material, are crucial for cell communication and carry messenger RNA (mRNA) from the brain. This method allows for the detection of changes in gene activity within the brain. The team's interest in this area grew from an earlier study that found altered EV communication in pregnant women who developed postpartum depression after childbirth. The latest study used the human placenta as a model to identify 26 placental mRNAs in maternal blood during pregnancy, which disappear after birth. This discovery confirmed that mRNAs from specific tissues, including the brain, are present in EVs in the blood. Utilizing brain organoids derived from stem cells, the researchers demonstrated that EV mRNAs mirror changes within these brain tissues.

Through analysis of brain-specific mRNAs using the Human Protein Atlas and the Genotype-Tissue Expression Project, the researchers identified mRNAs linked to various brain functions and disorders, including mood disorders, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and substance abuse. They also pinpointed 13 brain-specific mRNAs associated with postpartum depression. The study compared mRNAs from cells and EVs in a brain organoid model, finding that while the levels differ, they are correlated. This correlation suggests that it is possible to infer changes in the brain based on EV mRNA levels in the blood. The ultimate aim is to create a simple blood test to detect mRNA level changes related to mental disorders, potentially allowing for early detection of psychiatric emergencies like suicidal behavior. By identifying patients at risk of a psychiatric episode, intervention and prevention of adverse outcomes could be possible. Future research will focus on developing similar tests for conditions like autism spectrum disorder using lab-grown brain samples.

“This is very exciting, because right now, there isn’t a blood marker for disorders affecting the brain,” said Lena Smirnova, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Essentially, these conditions are diagnosed by clinical interviews between patients and providers.”

Related Links:
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Platinum Member
Flu SARS-CoV-2 Combo Test
OSOM® Flu SARS-CoV-2 Combo Test
Magnetic Bead Separation Modules
POCT Fluorescent Immunoassay Analyzer
Gold Member
Dengue Virus Test

Print article


Clinical Chemistry

view channel
Image: PhD student and first author Tarek Eissa has analyzed thousands of molecular fingerprints (Photo courtesy of Thorsten Naeser / MPQ / Attoworld)

Screening Tool Detects Multiple Health Conditions from Single Blood Drop

Infrared spectroscopy, a method using infrared light to study the molecular composition of substances, has been a foundational tool in chemistry for decades, functioning similarly to a molecular fingerprinting... Read more


view channel
Image: The Truvian diagnostic platform combines clinical chemistry, immunoassay and hematology testing in a single run (Photo courtesy of Truvian Health)

Automated Benchtop System to Bring Blood Testing To Anyone, Anywhere

Almost all medical decisions are dependent upon laboratory test results, which are essential for disease prevention and the management of chronic illnesses. However, routine blood testing remains limited worldwide.... Read more


view channel
Image: The Simplexa C. auris direct kit is a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay run on the LIAISON MDX instrument (Photo courtesy of Diasorin)

Novel Molecular Test to Help Prevent and Control Multi Drug-Resistant Fungal Pathogen in Healthcare Settings

Candida auris (C. auris) is a rapidly emerging multi drug-resistant fungal pathogen that is commonly found in healthcare environments, where it presents a challenge due to its ability to asymptomatically... Read more


view channel
Image: The tool can improve precision oncology by accurately predicting molecular subtypes and therapy responses (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Computational Tool Integrates Transcriptomic Data for Improved Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer globally, presenting in various subtypes that require precise identification for effective, personalized treatment. Traditionally, cancer subtyping has... Read more


view channel
Image: Beckman Coulter will utilize the ALZpath pTau217 antibody to detect key biomarker for Alzheimer\'s disease on its DxI 9000 immunoassay analyzer (Photo courtesy of Beckman Coulter)

Beckman Coulter Licenses Alzpath's Proprietary P-tau 217 Antibody to Develop Alzheimer's Blood Test

Cognitive assessments have traditionally been the primary method for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, but this approach has its limitations as symptoms become apparent only after significant brain changes... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2024 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.