Étudiant-chercheur étoile October 2014

Juan Pablo Lopez

PhD student in Human Genetics
McGill University

Award winning publicationmiR-1202 is a primate-specific and brain-enriched microRNA involved in major depression and antidepressant treatment

Published inNature Medicine, vol. 20, no 7, juillet 2014


"Biomarkers of antidepressant response are of critical need in psychiatry. Our work indicates that miR-1202, a primate-specific and brain enriched microRNA – a molecule able to silence gene expression, is differentially expressed in individuals suffering with depression, and predicts antidepressant treatment response. Furthermore, miR-1202 regulates the expression of a specific gene, indicating a potential disease mechanism and therapeutic target. The major impact of this publication is the identification of a new molecular target for antidepressant treatment. It also raises the question of whether microRNAs may have a role as biomarkers for treatment response in depression, as this has the potential to lead to new and better therapeutic options for major depressive disorder. This study highlights the role of miRNAs in neuropsychiatric disorders, and provides important steps in the development of early diagnostic tools, preventive strategies, and effective pharmacological treatment for mood disorders."

The goal of pharmacogenetic approaches in psychiatry is to identify clinically meaningful predictors of drug response and side effect burden. Given the clinical heterogeneity and prognostic uncertainty associated with most psychiatric disorders, the concept of personalized pharmacogenetic treatment holds considerable promise. To date, however studies in psychiatry have not yielded compelling results and the only promising data comes from animal studies. The study of Juan Pablo Lopez was the first to ever show in humans, a consistent microRNA dysregulation in postmortem brain tissue and blood samples from individuals suffering from depression. Additionally, and most importantly, their results suggest that miR-1202 predicts antidepressant treatment response. Furthermore, they indicate that peripheral blood cells represent a suitable tissue to examine epigenetic processes relevant to major depressive disorder and response to antidepressant treatment.