Cytokine imbalance in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder

Yong Ku Kim, Kyeong Sae Na, Kyung Ho Shin, Han Yong Jung, So Hyun Choi, Jung Bum Kim

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    276 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1044-1053
    Number of pages10
    JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jun 30

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This study was supported by a grant of the Korean Health 21 R&D Project, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (A050047).


    • Antidepressants
    • Cytokines
    • Interferons
    • Interleukins
    • Psychoimmunology
    • Transforming growth factors

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pharmacology
    • Biological Psychiatry


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