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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Jun 30;31(5):1044-53. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

Cytokine imbalance in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, Korea University Ansan Hospital, College of Medicine, South Korea.



A substantial body of evidence indicates that dysregulation of the immune system is associated with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Because most cytokines have pleiotropic effects, we measured various subsets of cytokines to examine the association between immune response and MDD.


Forty-eight hospitalized MDD patients and 63 normal controls were recruited. We measured in vitro monocytic (IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha), Th1 (interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-2), Th2 (IL-4), and Treg (transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1) cytokine production as well as IL-2/IL-4 and IFN-gamma/IL-4 ratios for both groups. Depressive symptoms were assessed by Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Patients were evaluated before and after 6 weeks of antidepressant treatment.


At admission, IL-6, TNF-alpha, TGF-beta1 production, and IFN-gamma/IL-4 ratio were significantly higher, whereas IFN-gamma, IL-2, and IL-4 were significantly lower in MDD patients. After treatment, IL-6 and TGF-beta1 production were significantly lower than before treatment.


We suggest that activation of monocytic proinflammatory cytokines, and inhibition of both Th1 and Th2 cytokines may be associated with immunological dysregulation in MDD. TGF-beta1 may be associated with the regulation of monocytic cytokines as well as Th1 and Th2 cytokines in MDD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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