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      Targeting the Inflammatory Pathway as a Therapeutic Tool for Major Depression

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          In the last decades convergent findings from several lines of evidence has revealed a robust association between major depressive disorder (MDD) and inflammatory pathways. Despite this, the translation of these findings into new and better treatments for MDD has not occurred. The objective of this study is to comprehensively review what is already known with reasonable certainty on inflammatory pathways in MDD, to clarify some points that have been insufficiently studied and to discuss the implications of these findings for future studies targeting inflammatory pathways as a therapeutic tool for individuals with MDD.

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          Most cited references 69

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          Interleukin (IL)-6, tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and soluble interleukin-2 receptors (sIL-2R) are elevated in patients with major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis and meta-regression.

          Many studies have explored the association between soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2R), cytokines and major depressive disorder (MDD). However, the results of these studies were not consistent. The aim of our study is to compare the levels of sIL-2R and cytokines in the blood between MDD patients and controls by a meta-analysis and to identify moderators accounting for potential heterogeneity in the levels of sIL-2R and cytokines in MDD patients versus controls by meta-regression analyses. A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify studies comparing the levels of sIL-2R and cytokines between MDD patients and controls. We pooled the effect sizes for standardized mean differences (SMD) of the levels of sIL-2R and cytokines. We also performed meta-regression and sensitivity analyses to investigate the roles of age, gender, sample type, ethnic origin and selected studies' quality in explaining potential heterogeneity and differences in results respectively. Twenty-nine studies were selected for this analysis. The levels of sIL-2R, TNF-α and IL-6 in MDD patients were significantly higher than those of healthy controls (SMD=0.555, p<0.001, SMD=0.567, p=0.010; SMD=0.680, p<0.001). Mean age of all subjects was a significant moderator to explain the high heterogeneity of IL-6. Sensitivity analysis found that European but not non-European subjects have higher levels difference of sIL-2R, TNF-α and IL-1β between MDD patients and controls. The severity of MDD was not considered. The blood levels of sIL-2R, TNF-α and IL-6 were significantly higher in MDD patients than controls. Age, samples source and ethnic origins may play a potential role in heterogeneity. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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            The effect of antidepressant medication treatment on serum levels of inflammatory cytokines: a meta-analysis.

            Serum levels of inflammatory cytokines, for example, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and IL-1 beta (IL-1β), are elevated in subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD). The reason why this occurs is unclear. Elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines could be a result of brain dysfunction in MDD. It is also possible that inflammatory cytokines contribute to depressive symptoms in MDD. If the first assumption is correct, one would expect levels to normalize with resolution of the depressive episode after treatment. Several studies have measured changes in cytokine levels during antidepressant treatment; however, the results vary. The purpose of this study was to pool all available data on changes in serum levels of TNFα, IL-6, and IL-1β during antidepressant treatment to determine whether these levels change. Studies were included if they used an approved pharmacological treatment for depression, patients had a diagnosis of MDD, and serum levels of TNFα, IL-6, and/or IL-1β were measured before and after treatment. Twenty-two studies fulfilled these criteria. Meta-analysis of these studies showed that, overall, while pharmacological antidepressant treatment reduced depressive symptoms, it did not reduce serum levels of TNFα. On the other hand, antidepressant treatment did reduce levels of IL-1β and possibly those of IL-6. Stratified subgroup analysis by class of antidepressant indicated that serotonin reuptake inhibitors may reduce levels of IL-6 and TNFα. Other antidepressants, while efficacious for depressive symptoms, did not appear to reduce cytokine levels. These results argue against the notion that resolution of a depressive episode is associated with normalization of levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines; however, the results are consistent with the possibility that inflammatory cytokines contribute to depressive symptoms and that antidepressants block the effects of inflammatory cytokines on the brain.
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              The relationship of depression and stressors to immunological assays: a meta-analytic review.

              This is a broad meta-analysis of the relations of both depression and stressors to immunological assays. The number of study samples (greater than 180) and measures (greater than 40) is much more extensive than any so far. Analyses are done by both fixed and random effects. By a fixed-effects analysis, both major depression and naturally occurring acute stressors are associated with (1) an overall leukocytosis, (2) mild reductions in absolute NK-cell counts and relative T-cell proportions, (3) marginal increases in CD4/CD8 ratios, and (4) moderate decreases in T- and NK-cell function. However, the degree of heterogeneity of the studies' results raises questions about their robustness. Therefore, we also did the first random effects analysis to estimate what is likely to appear in future studies. For depression, the analysis showed the immunological correlates included (1) an overall leukocytosis, manifesting as a relative neutrophilia and lymphoenia; (2) increased CD4/CD8 ratios; (3) increased circulating haptoglobin, PGE(2), and IL-6 levels; (4) reduced NK-cell cytotoxicity; and (5) reduced lymphocyte proliferative response to mitogen. For stressors, the random effects analysis showed that future studies are likely to find the following effects: (1) an overall leukocytosis, manifesting as an absolute lymphocytosis; (2) alterations in cytotoxic lymphocyte levels, CD4/CD8 ratios, and natural killer cell cytotoxicity with the direction of change depending on the chronicity of the stressor; (3) a relative reduction of T-cell levels; (3) increased EBV antibody titers; (4) reduced lymphocyte proliferative response and proportion of IL-2r bearing cells following mitogenic stimulation; and (5) increased leukocyte adhesiveness. The random-effects analysis revealed that for both major depression and naturally occurring stressors the following effects are shared: leukocytosis, increased CD4/CD8 ratios, reduced proliferative response to mitogen, and reduced NK cell cytotoxicity. The implications for these findings for disease susceptibility and the pathophysiology of these conditions is discussed. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                February 2014
                14 February 2014
                : 21
                : 2-3
                : 131-139
                aInterdisciplinary Laboratory of Clinical Neuroscience (LINC) and bProgram for Recognition and Intervention in Individuals in At-Risk Mental States (PRISMA), Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; cMood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit (MDPU), University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont., Canada; dDepartment of Psychiatry, Deakin University, Geelong, Vic., Australia; eDepartment of Psychiatry, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
                Author notes
                *Elisa Brietzke, Rua Pedro de Toledo 980, 3rd Floor, São Paulo, SP 04039-002 (Brazil), E-Mail elisabrietzke@hotmail.com
                356549 Neuroimmunomodulation 2014;21:131-139
                © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel

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