Publication Date: August 24, 2022
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a commonly observed psychiatric disorder that affects more than 2% of the world population with a rising trend. However, disease-associated pathways and biomarkers are yet to be fully comprehended. In this study, we analyzed previously generated RNA-seq data across seven different brain regions from three distinct studies to identify differentially and co-expressed genes for patients with MDD. Differential gene expression (DGE) analysis revealed that NPAS4 is the only gene downregulated in three different brain regions. Furthermore, co-expressing gene modules responsible for glutamatergic signaling are negatively enriched in these regions. We used the results of both DGE and co-expression analyses to construct a novel MDD-associated pathway. In our model, we propose that disruption in glutamatergic signaling-related pathways might be associated with the downregulation of NPAS4 and many other immediate-early genes (IEGs) that control synaptic plasticity. In addition to DGE analysis, we identified the relative importance of KEGG pathways in discriminating MDD phenotype using a machine learning-based approach. We anticipate that our study will open doors to developing better therapeutic approaches targeting glutamatergic receptors in the treatment of MDD.