Identification of Endocannabinoid Predictors of Treatment Outcomes in Major Depressive Disorder: A Secondary Analysis of the First Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND 1) Study

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2022 Nov;55(6):297-303. doi: 10.1055/a-1872-0844. Epub 2022 Jul 6.


Introduction: An increasing number of studies are examining the link between the endocannabinoidome and major depressive disorder (MDD). We conducted an exploratory analysis of this system to identify potential markers of treatment outcomes.

Methods: The dataset of the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression-1 study, consisting of 180 patients with MDD treated for eight weeks with escitalopram followed by eight weeks with escitalopram alone or augmented with aripiprazole was analyzed. Association between response Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS; score reduction≥50%) or remission (MADRS score≤10) at weeks 8 and 16 and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), methylation, and mRNA levels of 33 endocannabinoid markers were examined. A standard genome-wide association studies protocol was used for identifying SNPs, and logistic regression was used to assess methylation and mRNA levels.

Results: Lower methylation of CpG islands of the diacylglycerol lipase alpha gene (DAGLA) was associated with non-remission at week 16 (DAGLA; OR=0.337, p<0.003, q=0.050). Methylation of DAGLA was correlated with improvement in Clinical Global Impression (p=0.026), Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (p=0.010), and Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure scales (p=0.028). We did not find any association between SNPs or mRNA levels and treatment outcomes.

Discussion: Methylation of DAGLA is a promising candidate as a marker of treatment outcomes for MDD and needs to be explored further.

MeSH terms

  • Aripiprazole / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers
  • Canada
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / genetics
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endocannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Escitalopram / therapeutic use
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Endocannabinoids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Escitalopram
  • Aripiprazole