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A Longitudinal Study of Inflammatory Pathways in Depression

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT04159207
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : November 12, 2019
Last Update Posted : March 30, 2021
Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Columbia University
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Lena Brundin, Van Andel Research Institute

Brief Summary:

Suicide accounts for at least 1 million deaths globally each year. This is likely a significant underestimate, because suicide is under-reported in many countries. In the US, over 42,000 people die from suicide annually. Despite increased focus on identification and treatment, the rate of suicide has increased steadily over the past 15 years.

Our project aims both to improve our understanding of factors that increase the risk for suicide by comparing blood biomarkers associated with inflammation in patients with depression without suicidal behavior and patients with depression and suicidal behavior. The 160 individuals in this study will be followed with psychiatric assessments and blood samples at repeated time points over one year.

Condition or disease
Major Depressive Disorder Suicide, Attempted

Detailed Description:

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the US, and its rate continues to increase. Most individuals who die by suicide are in contact with health care, but clinical risk assessment is challenging. Inflammatory biomarkers have tentatively been linked to suicide. However, longitudinal studies establishing their accuracy in tracking suicidal behavior and critical symptoms are lacking. This study is a longitudinal study, with 1,280 total assessments planned, measuring suicidal ideation and behavior, associated clinical symptoms and blood biomarkers of inflammation.

Our overriding aim is to identify a set of biomarkers that distinguish patients with suicidal behavior from depressive patients without suicidal behavior. Further, the investigators intend to define biomarkers that are elevated during active suicidal behavior (at- risk periods) within the same patients (longitudinally).

Our working model is that inflammation (via pro-inflammatory cytokines) induces the kynurenine pathway, leading to an increased production of neurotoxic kynurenine metabolites (i.e., the NMDA-receptor agonist quinolinic acid, or others), which trigger suicidal behavior. The Investigators predict that immunomodulatory cells and molecules, including cytokines and kynurenine metabolites in plasma, may constitute biomarkers of suicidal behavior. The Investigators also predict that elevated inflammatory markers in suicidal individuals will be associated with epigenetic changes, regulating the expression of kynurenine enzymes in blood cells.


  1. Establish biomarkers that indicate risk for active suicidal behavior;
  2. Determine epigenetic markers in the blood of patients with suicidal behavior.

In Aim 1, the investigators will enroll patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and active suicidal behavior (planning or attempts), and MDD patients without current or past suicidal behavior. Each subject will be assessed at eight time-points over one year. The Investigators will measure interleukins and acute phase reactants as well as tryptophan, serotonin and metabolites of the kynurenine pathway in peripheral blood.

For aim 2, the investigators will perform whole-genome methylation analysis using Illumina EPIC arrays, followed by gene pathway analyses, in blood of the enrolled patients.

Our project will aid the implementation of biomarkers in clinical care for patients with suicide risk, in order to enable intensified intervention during critical time-points. The biological insight obtained here can guide therapeutic development specifically targeting suicidality, with the ultimate goal of reducing suicide numbers.

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Study Type : Observational
Estimated Enrollment : 160 participants
Observational Model: Cohort
Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: A Longitudinal Study of Inflammatory Pathways in Depression
Actual Study Start Date : October 1, 2019
Estimated Primary Completion Date : June 30, 2024
Estimated Study Completion Date : June 30, 2024

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

MedlinePlus related topics: Suicide

A Longitudinal Study of Inflammatory Pathways in Depression
We target to recruit 80 patients with Major Depression Disorder diagnosis and 80 patients with Major Depression Disorder with suicidal behavior.

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Suicidal behavior of participants [ Time Frame: One year. ]
    The presence of suicidal behavior over one year will be classified as yes/no as the primary outcome measure. The Identification of participants with suicidal behavior at each study time point will be achieved by assessment using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) regarding attempt, interrupted or aborted attempt, or preparatory acts over the past 7 days.

  2. Establish metabolic biomarkers that indicate risk for suicidal behavior [ Time Frame: One year. ]
    Evaluate if metabolic biomarkers are predictive of suicidal behavior (planning, attempting) among patients with depression. Metabolites will be measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography, ultra-high performace liquid-chromatography and gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry). The main metabolite biomarker outcomes are quinolinic, kynurenic and picolinic acids as well as 3-HK and kynurenine (nM).

  3. Establish inflammatory biomarkers that indicate risk for suicidal behavior [ Time Frame: One year. ]
    Evaluate if inflammatory biomarkers are predictive of suicidal behavior (planning, attempting) among patients with depression. Inflammatory markers will be measured using high-sensitivity ELISAs, Mesoscale platform or Luminex platforms. The main cytokine outcomes are TNF-alpha and IL-6 (pg/ml).

  4. Determine epigenetic marks in blood cells from patients with suicidal behavior [ Time Frame: One year. ]
    DNA methylation will be measured by Illumina Infinum methylationEPIC BeadChip microarrays, and compacted between patients with suicidal behavior and patients without suicidal behavior.

  5. Functional validation of the significant methylation changes [ Time Frame: One year. ]
    mRNA will be quantified by qPCR in the same peripheral blood samples as used for the EPIC array for functional validation of the significant methylation changes.

Biospecimen Retention:   Samples With DNA
blood draw

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
Sampling Method:   Non-Probability Sample
Study Population
People who are above age of 18, have a Major Depressive Disorder diagnosis and no ongoing immune disorders.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Men and women ages 18 years and older will be included in the study.
  • 80 who are diagnosed with MDD by SCID but do not endorse current or past suicidal behaviors.
  • 80 who are diagnosed with MDD by SCID and endorse current suicidal behavior as defined by C-SSRS (preparatory acts, aborted or interrupted attempts, as well as completed attempts).
  • English speaking.
  • Willing and able to take part of the different steps in the study, including follow-up interviews and blood draws.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Vulnerable populations (e.g. incarcerated individuals).
  • Subjects with dementia or otherwise cognitively impaired subjects with difficulty understanding the study procedures.
  • Patients with a primary psychiatric diagnosis other than MDD.
  • Patients with an active somatic disorder primarily involving the immune system (autoimmune diseases such as Crohns disease, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis; or hematological diseases such as lymphoma or leukemia).
  • Patients on chronic and systemic immunomodulatory treatment. Examples are patients with a liver- or kidney transplant or medications used for disorders involving the immune system, as mentioned above. Examples of immunomodulatory treatments are cyclosporin, azathioprine, infliximab, corticosteroid treatment.
  • Patients undergoing active treatment for any form of cancer (chemotherapy or immunomodulatory treatments).

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT04159207

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Contact: William Boshoven 616.259.7626
Contact: LeAnn Smart 616.222.4592

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United States, Michigan
Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services Recruiting
Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, 49501
Contact: Eric Achtypes, M.D.    616-260-1115   
Contact: William Boshoven    616-259-7676   
Sponsors and Collaborators
Van Andel Research Institute
Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Columbia University
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Principal Investigator: Lena C Brundin, M.D.; Ph.D. Van Andel Research Institute
Principal Investigator: Eric Achtyes, M.D. Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Principal Investigator: Joseph Mann, M.D. Columbia University Health Sciences
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Suicide. 2018.

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Responsible Party: Lena Brundin, Associate Professor, Van Andel Research Institute Identifier: NCT04159207    
Other Study ID Numbers: 19010
1R01MH118211-01A1 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
First Posted: November 12, 2019    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: March 30, 2021
Last Verified: March 2021
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Keywords provided by Lena Brundin, Van Andel Research Institute:
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Depressive Disorder
Depressive Disorder, Major
Suicide, Attempted
Behavioral Symptoms
Mood Disorders
Mental Disorders
Self-Injurious Behavior