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  • The treatment questions

    3 November 2018

  • The association between negative attention biases and symptoms of depression in a community sample of adolescents.

    3 November 2018

    Adolescence is a vulnerable time for the onset of depression. Recent evidence from adult studies suggests not only that negative attention biases are correlated with symptoms of depression, but that reducing negative attention biases through training can in turn reduce symptomology. The role and plasticity of attention biases in adolescent depression, however, remains unclear. This study examines the association between symptoms of depression and attention biases, and whether such biases are modifiable, in a community sample of adolescents. We report data from 105 adolescents aged 13-17 who completed a dot-probe measure of attention bias before and after a single session of visual search-based cognitive bias modification training. This is the first study to find a significant association between negative attention biases and increased symptoms of depression in a community sample of adolescents. Contrary to expectations, we were unable to manipulate attention biases using a previously successful cognitive bias modification task. There were no significant effects of the training on positive affect and only modest effects of the training, identified in post-hoc analyses, were observed on negative affect. Our data replicate those from the adult literature, which suggest that adolescent depression is a disorder associated with negative attention biases, although we were unable to modify attention biases in our study. We identify numerous parameters of our methodology which may explain these null training effects, and which could be addressed in future cognitive bias modification studies of adolescent depression.

  • Blood-Based Proteomic Biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease Pathology.

    3 November 2018

    The complexity of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and its long prodromal phase poses challenges for early diagnosis and yet allows for the possibility of the development of disease modifying treatments for secondary prevention. It is, therefore, of importance to develop biomarkers, in particular, in the preclinical or early phases that reflect the pathological characteristics of the disease and, moreover, could be of utility in triaging subjects for preventative therapeutic clinical trials. Much research has sought biomarkers for diagnostic purposes by comparing affected people to unaffected controls. However, given that AD pathology precedes disease onset, a pathology endophenotype design for biomarker discovery creates the opportunity for detection of much earlier markers of disease. Blood-based biomarkers potentially provide a minimally invasive option for this purpose and research in the field has adopted various "omics" approaches in order to achieve this. This review will, therefore, examine the current literature regarding blood-based proteomic biomarkers of AD and its associated pathology.

  • Innate and adaptive immunity in the development of depression: An update on current knowledge and technological advances.

    13 January 2019

    The inflammation theory of depression, proposed over 20years ago, was influenced by early studies on T cell responses and since then has been a stimulus for numerous research projects aimed at understanding the relationship between immune function and depression. Observational studies have shown that indicators of immunity, especially C reactive protein and proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin 6, are associated with an increased risk of depressive disorders, although the evidence from randomized trials remains limited and only few studies have assessed the interplay between innate and adaptive immunity in depression. In this paper, we review current knowledge on the interactions between central and peripheral innate and adaptive immune molecules and the potential role of immune-related activation of microglia, inflammasomes and indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase in the development of depressive symptoms. We highlight how combining basic immune methods with more advanced 'omics' technologies would help us to make progress in unravelling the complex associations between altered immune function and depressive disorders, in the identification of depression-specific biomarkers and in developing immunotherapeutic treatment strategies that take individual variability into account.