HealthDay News — The first objective, physiological marker for 2 major psychiatric disorders has been developed, according to a study published in Experimental Physiology.

Handan Gunduz-Bruce, MD, of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues note that animal research had already shown that the release of arginine-vasopressin (AVP) relies on N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor signaling. NMDA receptor signaling appears to be increased in patients with depression but reduced in those with schizophrenia, the study authors explained.

The research team used hypertonic saline to induce the release of AVP. Each patient’s blood was then tested for AVP. The investigators found that depressed patients had a greater release of the hormone, while patients with schizophrenia had a decreased production.

“This is the first objective, physiological marker for two major psychiatric disorders that, once fully developed into a clinical test, can allow for earlier and more accurate diagnosis, and selection of more appropriate medications for patients,” Dr Gunduz-Bruce said in a news release from The Physiological Society.

Disclosure: Dr Gunduz-Bruce is the inventor of this technology and has submitted a patent based on the methodology.


Gunduz-bruce H, Kenney J, Changlani S, et al. A translational approach for NMDA receptor profiling as a vulnerability biomarker for depression and schizophrenia [published March 13, 2017]. Exp Physiol. doi:10.1113/EP086212