The efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in treating mood disorders (MDs) is hypothesized to be mediated by the induction of neurotrophic factors (denoted “angioneurins”) that trigger neuronal plasticity. This study aimed to assess the effects of ECT on serum angioneurin levels in patients with MD.
A total of 110 patients with MDs, including 30 with unipolar depression, 25 with bipolar depression (BD), 55 with bipolar mania (BM), and 50 healthy controls were included in the study. Patients were subdivided into two groups: those who received ECT+medication (12 ECT sessions) and those who received only medication (no-ECT). Depressive and manic symptom assessments and measurements of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor-2, nerve growth factor (NGF), and insulin-like growth factor-1 levels in blood samples were performed at baseline and week 8.
Patients in the ECT group, specifically those with BD and BM, had significantly increased levels of VEGF compared to their baseline VEGF levels (p = 0.002). No significant changes in angioneurin levels were observed in the no-ECT group. Serum NGF levels were significantly associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms. Angioneurin levels were not associated with manic symptom reduction.
This study hints that ECT may increase VEGF levels with angiogenic mechanisms that amplify NGF signaling to promote neurogenesis. It may also contribute to changes in brain function and emotional regulation. However, further animal experiments and clinical validation are needed.

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