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Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Nov 1;54(9):906-14.

Interferon-alpha-induced changes in tryptophan metabolism. relationship to depression and paroxetine treatment.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Tryptophan (TRP) degradation into kynurenine (KYN) by the enzyme, indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase, during immune activation may contribute to development of depressive symptoms during interferon (IFN)-alpha therapy.

METHODS:

Twenty-six patients with malignant melanoma were randomly assigned in double-blind fashion to receive either placebo or paroxetine, beginning 2 weeks before IFN-alpha treatment and continuing for the first 12 weeks of IFN-alpha therapy. At treatment initiation and at 2, 4, and 12 weeks of IFN-alpha treatment, measurements of TRP, KYN, and neopterin (a marker of immune activation), were obtained, along with structured assessments of depression, anxiety, and neurotoxicity.

RESULTS:

Regardless of antidepressant treatment status, all patients exhibited significant increases in KYN, neopterin, and the KYN/TRP ratio during IFN-alpha therapy. Among antidepressant-free patients, patients who developed major depression exhibited significantly greater increases in KYN and neopterin concentrations and more prolonged decreases in TRP concentrations than did nondepressed, antidepressant-free patients. Moreover, in antidepressant-free patients, decreases in TRP correlated with depressive, anxious, and cognitive symptoms, but not neurovegetative or somatic symptoms. No correlations were found between clinical and biological variables in antidepressant-treated patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results suggest that reduced TRP availability plays a role in IFN-alpha-induced depressive symptoms, and paroxetine, although not altering the KYN or neopterin response to IFN-alpha, attenuates the behavioral consequences of IFN-alpha-mediated TRP depletion.

PMID:
14573318
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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