Study of decreased serum levels of retinol binding protein 4 in major depressive disorder

J Psychiatr Res. 2020 Oct:129:24-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.05.030. Epub 2020 Jun 5.


Background: Studies in western populations find that obesity and depression are positively correlated. Adipokines secreted by adipose tissue may serve as the crosstalk link between peripheral tissue and central nervous system, which mediates the relationship between obesity and depression.

Objective: This study aimed to investigate serum retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) concentration in patients with major depressive depression (MDD) and clarify its possible association with depression.

Methods: Major depressive disorder patients (n = 237), healthy controls (n = 48) were collected from June 2017 to October 2019. The measurement of RBP4 levels was performed by Advia 2400 automatic biochemistry analyzer. Depressive symptoms of patients were assessed using the 24-item Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD-24).

Results: (1) Serum RBP4 levels of MDD patients were significantly lower than that of the control group [(34.25 ± 8.82) mg/L vs (37.56 ± 8.83) mg/L] (P < 0.05) which was independent from obesity; (2) The level of RBP4 [(31.13 ± 9.16) mg/L] in suicide attempt (SA) group was significantly lower than that in the control group and non-suicide attempt (non-SA) group [(35.55 ± 8.37)mg/L](P < 0.05); (3) There was no significant correlation between serum RBP4 concentration and HAMD-24 score (P > 0.05); serum RBP4 concentrations were positively associated with age, age of onset and duration of disease (r = 0.325, 0.298, 0.135; P < 0.001, P < 0.001, P = 0.038) in depressive patients. (4) The level of serum RBP4 was positively correlated with TC, TG, and LDL-C (r = 0.350, 0.207, 0.268; P < 0.001, P = 0.001, P < 0.001), but not with other blood lipid indexes. ROC curve of RBP4 for MDD revealed an area under the curve of 0.603 and a sensitivity of 81.3%, specificity of 80%.

Conclusion: The level of RBP4 in patients with MDD was lower than that in the normal control group, which might be related to the prognosis of patients with depression.

Keywords: Depression; Prognosis; Retinol binding protein 4; Serum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder, Major*
  • Humans
  • Obesity
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma


  • RBP4 protein, human
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma