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Keywords:

  • cytokines;
  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor;
  • cerebrospinal fluid;
  • neuropeptide Y;
  • depression

Abstract

Background

A number of studies have shown that elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines may promote depression and suicidal ideation and that neuroprotective peptides may decrease the response to stress and depression. In this study, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of three inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα)) and two putative “resiliency” neuropeptides (brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neuropeptide Y (NPY)) were compared between patients with depression and healthy controls.

Methods

Eighteen patients with major depression and 25 healthy controls underwent a lumbar puncture; CSF samples were withdrawn and assayed for IL-1, IL-6, TNFα, BDNF, and NPY levels. Patients with depression were then entered into an 8-week treatment protocol and had repeated lumbar puncture procedures post-treatment.

Results

Contrary to prediction, we found that at baseline depressed patients had higher CSF NPY concentration compared to the normal comparison group. Within the depressed patients, we found several statistically significant correlations between elevated CSF cytokine levels and clinical severity.

Conclusion

Despite the small sample size, given the challenges in obtaining CSF from patients with depression these data are of interest in confirming some aspects of the inflammatory hypothesis of depression.