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Study Reveals Potential Sex-Specific Role for Noncoding RNA in Depression

A team led by scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has discovered a long, noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that appears to regulate depression on a sex-specific basis, offering new clues as to why women are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men. In the study, which appears this week in Science Advances, the researchers analyzed postmortem brain tissue from people with major depressive disorder (MDD) and find a human lncRNA, dubbed FEDORA, is enriched in oligodendrocytes and neurons, and upregulated in prefrontal cortex — but only in depressed women. When FEDORA was expressed in the brains of mice, it promoted depression-like behavior in just the female animals. When the investigators looked at blood samples from MDD patients enrolled in a clinical study examining the antidepressant effects of ketamine, they discovered higher levels of FEDORA in female patients versus both male patients and healthy women. The findings, the study's authors write, could help in the development of sex-specific diagnostic and treatment approaches for depression.