Pathogenetic and therapeutic applications of microRNAs in major depressive disorder

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Jan 4;64:341-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.02.003. Epub 2015 Feb 14.


As a class of noncoding RNAs, microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by inhibiting translation of messenger RNAs. These miRNAs have been shown to play a critical role in higher brain functioning and actively participate in synaptic plasticity. Pre-clinical evidence demonstrates that expression of miRNAs is differentially altered during stress. On the other hand, depressed individuals show marked changes in miRNA expression in brain. MiRNAs are also target of antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy. Moreover, these miRNAs are present in circulating blood and can be easily detected. Profiling of miRNAs in blood plasma/serum provides evidence that determination of miRNAs in blood can be used as possible diagnostic and therapeutic tool. In this review article, these aspects are critically reviewed and the role of miRNAs in possible etiopathogenesis and therapeutic implications in the context of major depressive disorder is discussed.

Keywords: Circulating miRNAs; Major depressive disorder; Postmortem brain; Stress; miRNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • MicroRNAs