The Missing Link: How Exosomes and miRNAs can Help in Bridging Psychiatry and Molecular Biology in the Context of Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2019 Aug;39(6):729-750. doi: 10.1007/s10571-019-00684-6. Epub 2019 May 14.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) only recently have been recognized as promising molecules for both fundamental and clinical neuroscience. We provide a literature review of miRNA biomarker studies in three most prominent psychiatric disorders (depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) with the particular focus on depression due to its social and healthcare importance. Our search resulted in 191 unique miRNAs across 35 human studies measuring miRNA levels in blood, serum or plasma. 30 miRNAs replicated in more than one study. Most miRNAs targeted neuroplasticity and neurodevelopment pathways. Various limitations do not allow us to make firm conclusions on clinical potential of studied miRNAs. Based on our results we discuss the rationale for future research investigations of exosomal mechanisms to overcome methodological caveats both in studying etiology and pathogenesis, and providing an objective back-up for clinical decisions.

Keywords: Biomarker; Bipolar disorder; Depression; Exosomes; Psychiatry; Schizophrenia; miRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics*
  • Depression / genetics*
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Psychiatry*
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs