Oxidative stress and glutathione response in tissue cultures from persons with major depression

Sara A. Gibson, Željka Korade, Richard C. Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


There is evidence that major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with increased peripheral markers of oxidative stress. To explore oxidation and antioxidant response in MDD, we assayed human dermal fibroblast cultures derived from skin biopsies of age-, race-, and sex-matched individuals in depressed and normal control groups (n = 16 each group), cultured in glucose and galactose conditions, for relative protein carbonylation (a measure of oxidative stress), glutathione reductase (GR) expression, and total glutathione concentration. In control-group fibroblasts, galactose induced a significant increase from the glucose condition in both protein carbonylation and GR. The cells from the MDD group showed total protein carbonylation and GR expression in the glucose condition that was significantly higher than control cells in glucose and equivalent to controls in galactose. There was a small decrease in protein carbonylation in MDD cells from glucose to galactose and no significant change in GR. There was no difference in total glutathione among any of the groups. Increased protein carbonylation and GR expression, cellular responses to oxidative stress induced by galactose in control fibroblasts, are present in fibroblasts derived from MDD patients and are not explainable by reduced GR or total glutathione in the depressed patients. These studies support the role of oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of MDD. Further confirmation of these findings could lead to the development of novel antioxidant approaches for the treatment of depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1326-1332
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione reductase
  • Human dermal fibroblasts
  • Major depression
  • Oxidative stress
  • Protein carbonylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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