Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Psychosom Med. 2011 Oct;73(8):656-63. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31822fc277. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Psychiatric symptoms and proinflammatory cytokines in pregnancy.

Author information

  • 1Departments of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, 300 Crittenden Blvd, Rochester, NY 14642-8409, USA. emma_robertsonblackmore@urmc.rochester.edu



Clinical studies suggest that psychiatric symptoms, particularly depression, anxiety, and trauma, may be associated with inflammation, as indexed by proinflammatory cytokines. Such a link may be especially significant in pregnancy and may shed additional light on the etiology of perinatal mood disorders.


We prospectively observed 145 women selected from a community obstetric clinic serving a primarily low-income, high-psychosocial risk population. Women without evidence of medical high-risk pregnancies were screened (including psychiatric and trauma histories) and then assessed in detail (e.g., mood symptoms) at approximately 18 and 32 weeks' gestation. Blood was drawn to measure key proinflammatory markers, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α). Data on pregnancy and obstetric outcome were derived from medical records.


There was considerable stability of cytokine levels within individuals and a significant mean increase across pregnancy observed for interleukin 6 (p < .001) and TNF-α (p < .001). History of trauma was associated with significantly elevated TNF-α levels (F(1,135) = 4.43, p < .05), controlling for psychosocial and obstetric covariates. In contrast, elevated measures of depression and anxiety were unrelated to proinflammatory cytokines (p > .1). Exploratory analyses indicated that neither psychiatric symptoms nor proinflammatory cytokines predicted birth weight, gestational age, or obstetric complications.


These findings suggest that antecedent trauma may be associated with persistently elevated TNF-α levels during pregnancy. The evidence that a generalized proinflammatory state was associated with symptoms of depression or anxiety in pregnant women was not found.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (1)Free text

Figure 1
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk