Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first-line treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), yet their mechanisms of action are not fully understood and their therapeutic benefit varies among individuals. We used a targeted metabolomics approach utilizing a panel of 180 metabolites to gain insights into mechanisms of action and response to citalopram/escitalopram. Plasma samples from 136 participants with MDD enrolled into the Mayo Pharmacogenomics Research Network Antidepressant Medication Pharmacogenomic Study (PGRN-AMPS) were profiled at baseline and after 8 weeks of treatment. After treatment, we saw increased levels of short-chain acylcarnitines and decreased levels of medium-chain and long-chain acylcarnitines, suggesting an SSRI effect on β-oxidation and mitochondrial function. Amines—including arginine, proline, and methionine sulfoxide—were upregulated while serotonin and sarcosine were downregulated, suggesting an SSRI effect on urea cycle, one-carbon metabolism, and serotonin uptake. Eighteen lipids within the phosphatidylcholine (PC aa and ae) classes were upregulated. Changes in several lipid and amine levels correlated with changes in 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores (HRSD17). Differences in metabolic profiles at baseline and post-treatment were noted between participants who remitted (HRSD17≤ 7) and those who gained no meaningful benefits (<30% reduction in HRSD17). Remitters exhibited (a) higher baseline levels of C3, C5, alpha-aminoadipic acid, sarcosine, and serotonin; and (b) higher week-8 levels of PC aa C34:1, PC aa C34:2, PC aa C36:2, and PC aa C36:4. These findings suggest that mitochondrial energetics—including acylcarnitine metabolism, transport, and its link to β-oxidation—and lipid membrane remodeling may play roles in SSRI treatment response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry