• Detecting Antenatal Depression Using Chromatography


Detecting Antenatal Depression Using Chromatography

Sep 09 2019

Giving birth is a key moment in many women’s life. But unfortunately, in a small number of cases the joy of childbirth brings something besides a beautiful bouncing baby - postpartum depression. It is estimated that between 5-15% of pregnant women will be affected by depression at some point during their pregnancy.  Studies indicate that the levels of depression are higher in women who have undergone caesarean delivery. Around one-third of deliveries are by caesarean section rather the vaginal birth - World Health Organization figures suggest a global rate of 27.3% in 2008.

Link between ante- and postpartum depression

Studies also suggest a link between pre- and post-birth depression in pregnant women. A paper published in the journal BMC Psychiatry - Biomarker screening for antenatal depression in women who underwent caesarean section: a matched observational study with plasma Lipidomics - reports on a study to help diagnose antenatal depression in women who have had a caesarean section. Could chromatography help to reduce the incidence of depression associated with pregnancy?

One of the factors that increases the risk of postpartum depression is antenatal depression - with women suffering from untreated antenatal depression more than seven times as likely to suffer from postpartum depression compared to women who do not suffer from antenatal depression. So, as the team behind the research suggest:

‘preoperative identification of AD can be helpful for potential treatment to improve maternal outcomes in women who have undergone caesarean section.’

Biomarkers and chromatography

Currently, there are no laboratory based diagnostic tools for antenatal depression. A lengthy interview with a psychiatrist is needed. This makes it difficult for non-psychiatric doctors to diagnose depression. Part of the problem with the diagnosis of depression in pregnant women is that many of the symptoms of depression overlap with the normal physiological signs associated with pregnancy. Hence, a fast objective test that helps all doctors diagnose antenatal depression is to be welcomed.

The team behind the study set out to try and identify any biomarkers that could be attributed to antenatal depression. They focussed on looking for lipidomic biomarkers - changes in lipids that are specific to antenatal depression. This involved taking samples from 33 women who had antenatal depression and 33 control subjects that were matched up in terms of age and weight profile.

The samples were analysed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry with the results analysed using a multivariate statistical package. Liquid chromatography is a key analytical technique in laboratories as discussed in the article, Increasing HPLC / UHPLC Sample Throughput: Doing More in Less Time. The team found that women who had undergone caesarean section and experienced antenatal depression had a significantly different plasma lipodomic profile compared to those who hadn’t suffered from antenatal depression. One of the key biomarkers is cholesterol sulfate, and the team conclude that:

‘Cholesterol sulfate and PC (18:2 (2E, 4E)/0:0) may be effective and specific lipidic biomarkers for the prediction of antenatal depression.’

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