Sex differences in plasma proteomic markers in late-life depression

Xiangning Xue, Derya Demirci, Eric J. Lenze, Charles F. Reynolds III, Benoit H. Mulsant, Julie Loebach Wetherell, Gregory F. Wu, Daniel M. Blumberger, Jordan F. Karp, Meryl A. Butters, Ana Paula Mendes-Silva, Erica L. Vieira, George Tseng, Breno S. Diniz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have shown significant sex-specific differences in major depressive disorder (MDD) in multiple biological parameters. Most studies focused on young and middle-aged adults, and there is a paucity of information about sex-specific biological differences in older adults with depression (aka, late-life depression (LLD)). To address this gap, this study aimed to evaluate sex-specific biological abnormalities in a large group of individuals with LLD using an untargeted proteomic analysis. We quantified 344 plasma proteins using a multiplex assay in 430 individuals with LLD and 140 healthy comparisons (HC) (age range between 60 and 85 years old for both groups). Sixty-six signaling proteins were differentially expressed in LLD (both sexes). Thirty-three proteins were uniquely associated with LLD in females, while six proteins were uniquely associated with LLD in males. The main biological processes affected by these proteins in females were related to immunoinflammatory control. In contrast, despite the smaller number of associated proteins, males showed dysregulations in a broader range of biological pathways, including immune regulation pathways, cell cycle control, and metabolic control. Sex has a significant impact on biomarker changes in LLD. Despite some overlap in differentially expressed biomarkers, males and females show different patterns of biomarkers changes, and males with LLD exhibit abnormalities in a larger set of biological processes compared to females. Our findings can provide novel targets for sex-specific interventions in LLD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115773
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Aging
  • Biomarkers
  • Late-life depression
  • Sex differences


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