Dynamics of melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) serum levels in major depressive disorder during antidepressant treatment

J Affect Disord. 2015 Jul 15:180:207-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.03.039. Epub 2015 Apr 1.


Background: In preclinical studies, the hypothalamic polypeptide melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) has been shown to be involved in depression-like behavior and modulations of MCH and MCH-receptors were proposed as potential new antidepressant drug targets.

Methods: For the first time, MCH serum levels were explored in 30 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) prior to (T1) and after 2 (T2) and 4 weeks (T3) of antidepressant treatment and in 30 age- and sex-matched healthy controls by applying a fluorescence immunoassay.

Results: Levels of MCH did not differ significantly between un-medicated patients (444.11±174.63pg/mL SD) and controls (450.68±210.03pg/mL SD). In MDD patients, MCH levels significantly decreased from T1 to T3 (F=4.663; p=0.013). Post-hoc analyses showed that these changes were limited to patients treated with mirtazapine but not escitalopram and female but not male patients. MCH-levels showed high correlations from T1 to T3 (r≥0.964, p<0.001) and were found to correlate significantly with parameters of sleep within the controls.

Limitations: Small sample size. No follow-up measures were performed within the control group.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest peripheral MCH-levels not to be altered in depression but possibly reflecting depression-related state properties that can be modulated by sleep, medication and sex.

Keywords: Depression; Hypothalamus; MCH; Major depressive disorder; Melanin-concentrating hormone; Orexin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Citalopram / administration & dosage
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / blood*
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects
  • Male
  • Melanins / blood*
  • Mianserin / administration & dosage
  • Mianserin / analogs & derivatives
  • Mirtazapine
  • Pituitary Hormones / blood*
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Melanins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Citalopram
  • Mianserin
  • melanin-concentrating hormone
  • Mirtazapine