Recent studies suggest that the angiogenic cytokine vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is involved in the pathogenesis of depression. However, only a few studies have investigated serum VEGF levels in individuals with depression, or the possible association between genetic variants within the VEGF gene and depression. The purpose of the present study was to investigate differences between serum VEGF levels in individuals with depression vs. control individuals, and associations between genetic markers located within VEGF and depression. In addition, determinants of the serum VEGF levels were identified. One-hundred and fifty-five depressed subjects and 280 controls were included in the study. All individuals returned a questionnaire and participated in a semi-structured diagnostic interview. Eleven single nucleotide polymorphisms were successfully analysed. VEGF levels were measured in serum by immunoassay and independent determinants of the serum VEGF level were assessed by generalized linear models.The main findings were that depression, severity of depression, previous depressive episodes, age and body mass index (BMI) were associated with higher serum VEGF levels. The genetic marker rs10434 was significantly associated with depression after correction for multiple testing, but not with the serum VEGF level. Our final model included depression and BMI as predictors of serum VEGF levels. Our study suggests a role for circulating serum VEGF in depression. Furthermore, our data also demonstrate that other factors than a diagnosis of depression influence the serum VEGF level. The importance of these factors should be emphasized when studies are compared.
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2014, Vol 17, Issue 9, p. 1409-1417