Depression and anxiety are not always easy to detect.
Besides being time consuming and inconvenient, diagnostic criteria are rather subjective. Therefore, an objective and easily detectable biomarker for depression and anxiety would be preferable.
Now, a team of Chinese researchers believe they have discovered one using a urine test.
The researchers began by collecting urine samples from 32 patients suffering from depression and anxiety and from 32 healthy controls who were matched according to age, sex, and body mass index. The urine was analyzed using standard chemistry techniques to determine if differences in the concentrations of various metabolites could be used to discriminate healthy people from patients with depression/anxiety. Indeed, the data showed that they could.
For a test like this to be of any practical use in the laboratory, it cannot test dozens of metabolites. So, the authors narrowed down their list of metabolites to just four: N-methylnicotinamide, aminomalonic acid, azelaic acid and hippuric acid. Using just these four metabolites, the authors had a predictive accuracy of 90% in the validation data set of 32 individuals.
If the authors’ results continue to be confirmed, the next step surely should be commercialization. A quick urine test for general practitioners to screen patients they suspect of suffering from depression and anxiety could be a tremendous boon to public health.
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