Is There an Association or Not?—Investigating the Association of Depressiveness, Physical Activity, Body Composition and Sleep With Mediators of Inflammation

Frank M Schmidt, Roland Mergl, Juliane Minkwitz, Lesca M Holdt, Daniel Teupser, Ulrich Hegerl, Hubertus Himmerich, Christian Sander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cytokines are mediators of inflammation that contribute to a low-grade inflammation in different disorders like major depression and obesity. It still remains unclear which psychological and medical factors interact with cytokine regulation. In the current investigation, the association between levels of pro-and anti-inflammatory cytokines and anthropometrics, mood state (depressiveness), physical activity and sleep were investigated in a sample of community-dwelled adults. Methods: Forty-nine subjects met the inclusion criteria for analyses and were assessed at two time-points (baseline (T1) and follow-up (T2), average T1-T2-interval = 215 days). Serum cytokine measures included the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-2, IL-12, IFN-γ and TNF-α, the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-10 and IL-13 and the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF); anthropometrics were assessed via physical examination, depressiveness was assessed via Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)2, parameters of physical activity (steps, METs) and sleep (night/total sleep duration) were measured via a 1-week actigraphy. Results: Correlation analyses showed low-to moderate significant relationships between the majority of cytokines and the BDI2 at T1, positive correlation with weight and BMI at T1 and T2, and negative correlations with the number of steps and METs at T2 and T2. Regression analyses for T1 revealed that the BDI2 score was the best positive predictor for the concentrations of all nine cytokines, followed by the number of steps and the nightsleep duration as negative predictors. At T2, the amount of steps was found to be negatively associated with IL-4, IL5, IL-10, GM-CSF, IFN-γ, and TNF-α, whereas the BMI could significantly predict IL-12 and IL-13. The BDI2-score was not significantly associated with any of the cytokines. No associations could be found between dynamics in cytokines from T1 and T2 and changes in any of the variables. Discussion: The present results indicate an influence of physical activity, subjective well-being and body composition on inflammatory mediators. Since there was no standardized intervention targeting the independent variables between T1 and T2, no assumptions on causality can be drawn from the association results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number563
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2020


  • cytokines
  • depression
  • inflammation
  • obesity
  • physical activity


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