Gender Differences in Developing Biomarker-Based Major Depressive Disorder Diagnostics

Mike C Jentsch*, Huibert Burger, Marjolein B M Meddens, Lian Beijers, Edwin R van den Heuvel, Marcus J M Meddens, Robert A Schoevers

*Corresponding author for this work

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The identification of biomarkers associated with major depressive disorder (MDD) holds great promise to develop an objective laboratory test. However, current biomarkers lack discriminative power due to the complex biological background, and not much is known about the influence of potential modifiers such as gender. We first performed a cross-sectional study on the discriminative power of biomarkers for MDD by investigating gender differences in biomarker levels. Out of 28 biomarkers, 21 biomarkers were significantly different between genders. Second, a novel statistical approach was applied to investigate the effect of gender on MDD disease classification using a panel of biomarkers. Eleven biomarkers were identified in men and eight in women, three of which were active in both genders. Gender stratification caused a (non-significant) increase of Area Under Curve (AUC) for men (AUC = 0.806) and women (AUC = 0.807) compared to non-stratification (AUC = 0.739). In conclusion, we have shown that there are differences in biomarker levels between men and women which may impact accurate disease classification of MDD when gender is not taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3039
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May-2020


  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • gender
  • biomarker panel
  • diagnostic methods
  • quantile-based prediction
  • bio depression score

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