Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 114-119

Is depression an inflammatory disease? findings from a cross-sectional study at a tertiary care center

1 Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
2 Department of Clinical Immunology, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Vikas Menon
Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry - 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7176.178772

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Background: Evidence linking inflammation and depression is marred by several methodological inconsistencies. Further, varying information is present on the role of gender as a potential confounder in this association. Aims: To assess systemic inflammation in drug naοve depression by measuring selected pro-inflammatory (tumor necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-α], interleukin-6 [IL-6]) and anti-inflammatory cytokines (transforming growth factor-beta [TGF-β]) and comparing them with a matched control group. We also aimed at exploring the differences in these markers between genders. Setting and Design: The study was a cross-sectional one carried out a teaching cum Tertiary Care Hospital. Materials and Methods: We recruited 55 drug naοve cases diagnosed with major depression and compared them for inflammatory markers with a matched apparently healthy control group (n = 42) at baseline. The inflammatory markers were also compared between the genders. Baseline depression and stress levels were assessed using standard measures. Statistical Analysis Used: Mann-Whitney U-test. Results: In comparison with healthy controls, drug naοve depressed individuals demonstrated significantly raised baseline levels of TNF-α and IL-6 (P < 0.001 for both) but no difference in levels of TGF-β (P = 0.433). Neither the baseline depression nor the stress scores correlated with any of the inflammatory markers (P = 0.955 and 0.816 for TNF-α respectively). Males and females were comparable on the levels of markers studied (P = 0.986, 0.415, and 0.430 for TNF-α, IL-6 and TGF-β respectively). Conclusion: There is evidence for higher baseline inflammation in depression prior to starting anti-depressant therapy. Gender does not mediate this observed link between inflammation and depression.

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