Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Protein Marker May Detect Depression

Research Could Lead to Lab Test for Depression
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 11, 2008 -- Researchers may be a step closer to creating a lab test to detect depression.

"We may be able to tell you if you are depressed and more importantly, whether you are responding to the chosen antidepressant therapy," says researcher Mark Rasenick in a news release.

Rasenick and his team at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine compared specimens from 16 brains of depressed people who had committed suicide to 16 who had no history of mental illness.

Most of the brains were obtained from men. The researchers found that all the brains had a protein known as Gs alpha. But in the depressed group, the protein pooled in specific areas of the cell membrane. According to Rasenick, this protein is "responsible for the action of neurotransmitters such as serotonin."

It is believed that this protein could serve as a depression biomarker, leading researchers to create a simple lab test to determine whether someone is depressed.

Rasenick says once a test is developed, "this test could serve to predict the efficacy of antidepressant therapy quickly, within four or five days, sparing patients the agony of waiting a month or more to find out if they are on the correct therapeutic regimen."

Rasenick and colleagues are expanding the research to confirm the findings.

The study is published in the March 12 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path