Some evidence indicates that an immune response with an increased production of proinflammatory cytokines often accompanies major depression. The objective of this study was to examine the serum levels of IL-6 in patients with major depression and the changes occurring in IL-6 levels during treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
Twenty-three patients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of major depressive disorder and 23 healthy matched controls were included in the study. The severity of depression was measured with the Hamilton rating scale for depression. Blood samples for IL-6 levels were obtained at baseline and at week 6 of treatment and IL-6 concentrations were evaluated using a solid phase sandwich enzyme immunoassay. All patients were treated with an SSRI.
The IL-6 levels showed no statistically significant difference between the patients and the controls at baseline. However, IL-6 levels after treatment with SSRIs were significantly lower compared with the baseline IL-6 levels of both the patients and the controls.
The results of this study suggest that proinflammatory cytokines show some changes during the course of treatment of major depression. These findings might also be considered as supporting the hypothesis of a modulatory role of antidepressants on the immune system. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.