Peripheral vascular endothelial growth factor level is associated with antidepressant treatment response: results of a preliminary study

J Affect Disord. 2013 Jan 25;144(3):269-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.09.006. Epub 2012 Sep 28.


Background: Recent investigations have revealed multiple actions of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the nervous system. The role of VEGF in the molecular background of mood disorders has also been proposed. In this study we were interested in investigating a possible association between VEGF levels and treatment response in patients with a current episode of major depression (MDE).

Methods: 34 patients with MDE were enrolled in our study. Depressive symptoms were monitored by the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale at baseline (V(1)) and after a 4-week treatment period (V(2)). Patients with less than a 50% improvement in MADRS total scores during this period were regarded as non-responders.

Results: Plasma VEGF levels did not change during the treatment period in either the total sample or in the responder and non-responder subsamples. There was a strong trend for higher baseline VEGF levels in the non-responder group than in the responder group (p=0.055) and this difference-as a weak trend-was still detectable at the end of the treatment period (p=0.097). Regression analysis revealed that the baseline VEGF level was a significant predictor for the endpoint MADRS score (p=0.02).

Limitations: Sample size was relatively small; sample consists of both patients with MDD and bipolar disorder.

Conclusions: Our preliminary results raise the possibility that baseline levels of peripheral VEGF may predict treatment response in patients with mood disorders. Considering the limitations of our study, further investigations should resolve whether VEGF is a useful biomarker for treatment response in depression in clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Research Design
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A