FOR PROFESSIONALS - ABSTRACT

 

Current evidence based psychiatric treatment for adolescent anxiety disorders involves a trial and error process. Child psychiatrists start with the first line treatments (i.e. SSRI or psychotherapy), which requires from 4-8 weeks to work. There is a long interval between treatment initiation and response with only 50 to 60% likelihood that the treatment chosen will succeed in reducing anxiety symptoms. The science that will enable us to predict who will respond to medication treatment does not exist. Studies have demonstrated a correlation between cellular markers in white blood cells and psychiatric disorders suggesting that certain genes may also change their expression in peripheral cells in response to treatment of psychiatric disorders. Several studies report a significant decrease in expression of key genes that are involved in the pathophysiology of anxiety and depression in the brain, such as BDNF, CREB and HDAC5 levels in leukocytes of people with mood and anxiety disorders. The levels of BDNF, HDAC5 and CREB in white blood cells then respond to treatment and match that of controls after treatment with SSRIs. The increase accessibility to sequencing technology allows us to survey many more potential biomarkers than what was possible just several years ago. This may enable us to formulate a test that will predict, based on biocellular markers, treatment outcome in anxiety disorders for adolescents before the onset of treatment. By finding molecular markers that can predict treatment success from the onset, we can improve treatment outcomes considerably compared to current standard treatment practices. This kind of personalized medicine is the future of psychiatry.