Increased serum levels of serine enantiomers in patients with depression

Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2016 Jun;28(3):173-8. doi: 10.1017/neu.2015.59. Epub 2015 Oct 29.


Objective: Glutamatergic neurotransmission via the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is integral to the pathophysiology of depression. This study was performed to examine whether amino acids related to NMDA receptor neurotransmission are altered in the serum of patients with depression.

Method: We measured the serum levels of d-serine, l-serine, glycine, glutamate and glutamine in patients with depression (n=70), and age-matched healthy subjects (n=78).

Results: Serum levels of d-serine and l-serine in patients with depression were significantly higher than those of healthy controls (p<0.001). In contrast, serum levels of glycine, glutamate and glutamine did not differ between the two groups. Interestingly, the ratio of l-serine to glycine in patients was significantly higher than that of healthy controls (p<0.001).

Conclusion: This study suggests that serine enantiomers may be peripheral biomarkers for depression, and that abnormality in the d-serine-l-serine-glycine cycle plays a role in the pathophysiology of depression.

Keywords: d-serine; l-serine; NMDA receptor; biomarker; depression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / blood*
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / blood*
  • Glutamine / blood*
  • Glycine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Serine / blood*
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Serine
  • Glycine