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Replicable and Coupled Changes in Innate and Adaptive Immune Gene Expression in Two Case-Control Studies of Blood Microarrays in Major Depressive Disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gwenaël G.R. Leday, Petra E. Vértes, Sylvia Richardson, Jonathan R. Greene, Tim Regan, Shahid Khan, Robbie Henderson, Tom C. Freeman, Carmine M. Pariante, Neil A. Harrison, Rudolf Cardinal, David Hume, Zhaozong Wu, Annamaria Cattaneo, Patricia Zunszain, Alessandra Borsini, Robert Stewart, David Chandran, Livia Carvalho, Joshua Bell & 11 more Luis Souza-Teodoro, Hugh Perry, Neil Harrison, Wayne Drevets, Gayle Wittenberg, Declan Jones, Annie Stylianou, V. Hugh Perry, Wayne C. Drevets, Gayle M. Wittenberg, Edward T. Bullmore

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological psychiatry
Early online date6 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2017


King's Authors


Background: Peripheral inflammation is often associated with major depressive disorder (MDD), and immunological biomarkers of depression remain a focus of investigation. 
Methods: We used microarray data on whole blood from two independent case-control studies of MDD: the GlaxoSmithKline–High-Throughput Disease-specific target Identification Program [GSK-HiTDiP] study (113 patients and 57 healthy control subjects) and the Janssen–Brain Resource Company study (94 patients and 100 control subjects). Genome-wide differential gene expression analysis (18,863 probes) resulted in a p value for each gene in each study. A Bayesian method identified the largest p-value threshold (q = .025) associated with twice the number of genes differentially expressed in both studies compared with the number of coincidental case-control differences expected by chance. 
Results: A total of 165 genes were differentially expressed in both studies with concordant direction of fold change. The 90 genes overexpressed (or UP genes) in MDD were significantly enriched for immune response to infection, were concentrated in a module of the gene coexpression network associated with innate immunity, and included clusters of genes with correlated expression in monocytes, monocyte-derived dendritic cells, and neutrophils. In contrast, the 75 genes underexpressed (or DOWN genes) in MDD were associated with the adaptive immune response and included clusters of genes with correlated expression in T cells, natural killer cells, and erythroblasts. Consistently, the MDD patients with overexpression of UP genes also had underexpression of DOWN genes (correlation > .70 in both studies). 
Conclusions: MDD was replicably associated with proinflammatory activation of the peripheral innate immune system, coupled with relative inactivation of the adaptive immune system, indicating the potential of transcriptional biomarkers for immunological stratification of patients with depression.

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