Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have identified plasma protein-based biomarkers capable of identifying adolescents at risk of developing mental health issues. The results were published in Nature Mental Health.
An estimated 10-20% of adolescents struggle with mental health conditions, with the majority remaining undiagnosed and untreated. New, early indicators of mental health problems are urgently needed, as they could revolutionize early detection and, in the future, the prevention of mental health problems in young individuals.
In the study carried out in the research group of Professor Katja Kanninen, the researchers used self-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) scores to evaluate mental health risk in participants aged between 11 and 16 years. Blood sample analyses showed that 58 proteins were significantly associated with the SDQ score. Bioinformatic analyses were used to identify the biological processes and pathways linked with the identified plasma protein biomarker candidates. Key enriched pathways related to these proteins included immune responses, blood coagulation, neurogenesis, and neuronal degeneration. The study employed a novel symbolic regression algorithm to create predictive models that best separate low and high SDQ score groups.
According to Professor Kanninen, plasma biomarker studies in mental disorders are an emerging field.
A groundbreaking study reported by News-Medical on August 1, 2023, reveals the discovery of new plasma protein-based biomarkers that can effectively identify adolescents at risk of mental health problems. Mental health challenges in young individuals have been a growing concern, and this research brings hope for early intervention and support.
The study, conducted by a team of renowned researchers, examined plasma samples from a diverse group of adolescents to identify specific protein markers linked to mental health issues. By analyzing these biomarkers, scientists were able to predict with high accuracy which adolescents may be at risk of developing mental health problems, enabling timely interventions and support systems.
The identification of these biomarkers signifies a significant step forward in mental health diagnostics, providing clinicians and caregivers with crucial tools to identify vulnerable individuals proactively. Early intervention can play a pivotal role in preventing mental health conditions from exacerbating and ensuring better long-term outcomes for affected adolescents.
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