University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, but not CRP, are inversely correlated with severity and symptoms of major depression

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 17:46 authored by Schmidt, FM, Schroder, T, Kenneth KirkbyKenneth Kirkby, Sander, C, Suslow, T, Holdt, LM, Teusper, D, Hegerl, U, Himmerich, H
To clarify findings of elevated cytokine levels in major depression (MD), this study aimed to investigate the relationship between serum levels of cytokines, symptoms of MD and antidepressant treatment outcome. At baseline (T0) and 4 weeks following initiation of antidepressant treatment (T1), levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-12, IL-13, granulocyte-macrophage-colony-stimulating-factor (GM-CSF), CRP and depression ratings HAMD-17 and BDI-II were assessed in 30 patients with MD and 30 age-and sex-matched controls. At T0, in the patient group, cytokines, but not CRP, negatively correlated with individual BDI-II-items, factors and severities and showed both negative and positive correlations with HAMD-17 items. At T1 and within the controls, no such relationships were observed. At T0 and T1, levels of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were significantly higher in treatment responders (ΔHAMD-17T0-T1≥50%, n = 15) compared to non-responders. When controlled for baseline BDI, differences between groups were only found significant for IL-2 at T0. The results suggest cytokines are not generally pro-depressive but rather relate to more specific regulation of symptoms and severities in MD. Together with the association between cytokines and treatment responder status, these data support cytokines as a promising but still controversial biomarker of depression.


Publication title

Psychiatry Research








Tasmanian School of Medicine


Elsevier Sci Ireland Ltd

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2016 Elseiver Ireland Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health