Inflammatory Proteins and Clinical Response to Psychological Therapy in Patients with Depression: An Exploratory Study

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In people with depression, immune dysfunctions have been linked with treatment
non-response, but examinations of psychological therapy outcomes, particularly longitudinal biomarker studies, are rare. This study investigated relationships between inflammation, depressive subtypes and clinical outcomes to psychological therapy. Adults with depression (n = 96) were assessed before and after a course of naturalistically-delivered psychological therapy. In total, 32 serum inflammatory proteins were examined alongside therapy outcomes and depressive subtypes (somatic/cognitive symptom subtype, and bipolar/unipolar depression). Overall, 49% of participants responded to treatment. High levels of tumour necrosis factor (TNFα), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and soluble intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM1), and low interferon-γ (IFNγ), preceded a poorer response to therapy. After therapy, non-responders had elevated c-reactive protein (CRP), thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) and macrophage chemoattractant protein-4 (MCP4), and attenuated IFNy. Non-somatic depressive symptoms were universally not associated with proteins, while somatic-depressive symptom severity was positively correlated with several pro-inflammatory markers. In the somatic subgroup only, IL-6 and serum amyloid alpha (SAA) decreased between pre- and post-therapy timepoints. Regardless of treatment response, IL-7, IL-8, IL-15 and IL-17 increased over time. These results suggest that inflammation is associated with somatic symptoms of depression and non-response to psychological therapy. Future work may enhance the prospective prediction of treatment-response by examining larger samples of individuals undertaking standardised treatment programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3918
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2020


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