Genetic biomarkers for differential diagnosis of major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder: A systematic and critical review.


Stress and Affective Disorders (SAD) Programme, Department of Neurosciences and Behavior, School of Medicine of Ribeirao Preto, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Centre for Affective Disorders, Psychological Medicine, King's College London, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


Depressive symptoms are present in the depressive mood state of bipolar disorder (BPD) and major depression disorder (MDD). Often, in clinical practice, BPD patients are misdiagnosed with MDD. Therefore, genetic biomarkers could contribute to the improvement of differential diagnosis between BPD and MDD. This systematic and critical review aimed to find in literature reliable genetic biomarkers that may show differences between BPD and MDD. This systematic review followed the PRISMA-P method. The terms used to search PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO, and Web of Science were depress*, bipolar, diagnos*, genetic*, biomark*. After applying the selection criteria, N = 27 studies were selected, being n = 9 about biomarkers for BPD; n = 15, about MDD; and n = 3 for distinguishing MDD from BPD. A total of N = 3086 subjects were assessed in the selected studies (n = 486 in BPD group; n = 1212 in MDD group; and n = 1388, healthy control group). The articles were dated up to June 2017. Of the N = 27 studies, n = 16 assessed gene, n = 1 miRNA, n = 2 lcnRNA and n = 3 protein expressions, n = 4 methylation, and n = 4 polymorphisms. Some studies applied more than one of these genetic analyses. To find reliable genetic biomarkers we have taken into account the methodological care during the studies development and their validity. The genetic biomarkers selected are related to genes that play a fundamental role in synaptic plasticity, neurogenesis, mood control, brain ageing, immune-inflammatory processes and mitochondrial respiratory chain. BDNF gene expression was one of the genetic biomarkers that highlighted because of its capacity of distinguishing BPD and MDD groups, and being adequately reproduced by more than one selected study.


Bipolar,Depression,Diagnosis,Genetic biomarker,