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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2010 Feb;20(2):88-95. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2009.11.005. Epub 2009 Dec 11.

Evaluation of the effect of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors on lymphocyte subsets in patients with a major depressive disorder.

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Department of Psychoimmunology, National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente, Mexico.


To date, only the effect of a short-term antidepressant treatment (<12 weeks) on neuroendocrinoimmune alterations in patients with a major depressive disorder has been evaluated. Our objective was to determine the effect of a 52-week long treatment with selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors on lymphocyte subsets. The participants were thirty-one patients and twenty-two healthy volunteers. The final number of patients (10) resulted from selection and course, as detailed in the enrollment scheme. Methods used to psychiatrically analyze the participants included the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview, Hamilton Depression Scale and Beck Depression Inventory. The peripheral lymphocyte subsets were measured in peripheral blood using flow cytometry. Before treatment, increased counts of natural killer (NK) cells in patients were statistically significant when compared with those of healthy volunteers (312+/-29 versus 158+/-30; cells/mL), but no differences in the populations of T and B cells were found. The patients showed remission of depressive episodes after 20 weeks of treatment along with an increase in NK cell and B cell populations, which remained increased until the end of the study. At the 52nd week of treatment, patients showed an increase in the counts of NK cells (396+/-101 cells/mL) and B cells (268+/-64 cells/mL) compared to healthy volunteers (NK, 159+/-30 cells/mL; B cells, 179+/-37 cells/mL). We conclude that long-term treatment with selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors not only causes remission of depressive symptoms, but also affects lymphocyte subset populations. The physiopathological consequence of these changes remains to be determined.

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