Dysregulation of mitochondrial dynamics, mitophagy and apoptosis in major depressive disorder: Does inflammation play a role?

Giselli Scaini, Brittany L. Mason, Alexandre P. Diaz, Manish K. Jha, Jair C. Soares, Madhukar H. Trivedi, João Quevedo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Recent studies have suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction and dysregulated neuroinflammatory pathways are involved in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). Here, we aimed to assess the differences in markers of mitochondrial dynamics, mitophagy, general autophagy, and apoptosis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of MDD patients (n = 77) and healthy controls (HCs, n = 24). Moreover, we studied inflammation engagement as a moderator of mitochondria dysfunctions on the severity of depressive symptoms. We found increased levels of Mfn-2 (p < 0.001), short Opa-1 (S-Opa-1) (p < 0.001) and Fis-1 (p < 0.001) in MDD patients, suggesting an increase in the mitochondrial fragmentation. We also found that MDD patients had higher levels of Pink-1 (p < 0.001), p62/SQSTM1 (p < 0.001), LC3B (p = 0.002), and caspase-3 active (p = 0.001), and lower levels of parkin (p < 0.001) compared with HCs. Moreover, we showed that that MDD patients with higher CRP levels had higher levels of Mfn-2 (p = 0.001) and LC3B (p = 0.002) when compared with MDD patients with low CRP. Another notable finding was that the severity of depressive symptoms in MDD is associated with changes in protein levels in pathways related to mitochondrial dynamics and mitophagy, and can be dependent on the inflammatory status. Overall, our study demonstrated that a disruption in the mitochondrial dynamics network could initiate a cascade of abnormal changes relevant to the critical pathological changes during the course of MDD and lead to poor outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular psychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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