C-reactive protein (CRP) is a candidate biomarker for major depressive disorder (MDD), but it is unclear how peripheral CRP levels relate to the heterogeneous clinical phenotypes of the disorder.
To explore CRP in MDD and its phenotypic associations.
We recruited 102 treatment-resistant patients with MDD currently experiencing depression, 48 treatment-responsive patients with MDD not currently experiencing depression, 48 patients with depression who were not receiving medication and 54 healthy volunteers. High-sensitivity CRP in peripheral venous blood, body mass index (BMI) and questionnaire assessments of depression, anxiety and childhood trauma were measured. Group differences in CRP were estimated, and partial least squares (PLS) analysis explored the relationships between CRP and specific clinical phenotypes.
Compared with healthy volunteers, BMI-corrected CRP was significantly elevated in the treatment-resistant group (P = 0.007; Cohen’s d = 0.47); but not significantly so in the treatment-responsive (d = 0.29) and untreated (d = 0.18) groups. PLS yielded an optimal two-factor solution that accounted for 34.7% of variation in clinical measures and for 36.0% of variation in CRP. Clinical phenotypes most strongly associated with CRP and heavily weighted on the first PLS component were vegetative depressive symptoms, BMI, state anxiety and feeling unloved as a child or wishing for a different childhood.
CRP was elevated in patients with MDD, and more so in treatment-resistant patients. Other phenotypes associated with elevated CRP included childhood adversity and specific depressive and anxious symptoms. We suggest that patients with MDD stratified for proinflammatory biomarkers, like CRP, have a distinctive clinical profile that might be responsive to second-line treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs.
More and more research is pointing towards the impact that our immune system has on our likelihood to develop depression. And understanding this could have huge impacts on how we treat it. We speak to Professor Carmine Pariante, who’s been investigating this fascinating area of research for the last 20 years to find out more.
When the journalist Bryony Gordon wrote about her struggle with depression she was taken aback by her readers’ reaction. In her memoir Mad Girl she recalls: ‘Of all the subjects I had written about in my career, not one of them had elicited a response like this… I received hundreds and hundreds of messages from people sharing their own stories of mental illness. Strangers sent me cards. Friends I had always seen as upbeat and jolly, who had probably always seen me as upbeat and jolly, pulled me to on
A research team, led by Cardiff University, has made a significant step towards the development of a simple blood test to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, the group of researchers from Cardiff University, King’s College London and the University of Oxford studied blood from 292 individuals with the earliest signs of memory impairment and found a set of biomarkers (indicators of disease) that predicted whether or not a given individual would develop Alzheimer’s disease.
There is growing evidence that inflammation – already known to be a cause of many whole-body diseases – is also involved in diseases of the brain, including psychiatric conditions like depression.Depression is a common and crippling disease affecting over 350m people worldwide. Around 20% of the UK population will suffer from depression at some point in their lives, with symptoms varying from feelings of sadness and hopelessness through to suicidal thoughts. The disease may be a response to bereavement or other life events or emerge without any obvious cause. All too often it persists, sometimes for life.