Depression is an Inflammatory Disease

Steven Dubovsky, MD


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In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


A meta-analysis shows higher levels of two cytokines in depressed patients.


People who are chronically ill often get depressed; depressed people are prone to a variety of medical illnesses; and pro-inflammatory cytokines can alter mood and promote illness. To determine whether these proteins play a role in the overlap between depression and inflammation-associated medical disorders, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 24 case–control studies of basal cytokine levels in a total of 438 unmedicated subjects with major depression and no comorbid illnesses and 350 medically and psychiatrically healthy controls.

Concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin (IL)-6 were significantly higher in depressed patients than in controls. The groups showed no significant differences in other interleukins (IL-1β, IL-4, IL-2, IL-8, or IL-10) or in interferon-gamma.