Lower serum vitamin E concentrations in major depression. Another marker of lowered antioxidant defenses in that illness

J Affect Disord. 2000 Jun;58(3):241-6. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(99)00121-4.


Objective: Major depression is associated with defective antioxidant defenses. Vitamin E is the major fat soluble antioxidant in the body. The aim of the present study is to examine serum vitamin E concentrations in major depressed patients versus normal volunteers.

Method: Serum vitamin E concentrations were measured in 26 healthy volunteers and 42 major depressed patients by means of HPLC. Since vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, and serum vitamin E concentrations are strongly related to these of low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides, we have adjusted the results for possible differences in these lipids. The numbers of peripheral blood leukocytes were measured.

Results: Patients with major depression had significantly lower serum vitamin E concentrations than healthy controls. The area under the ROC (receiver operating characteristics) curve was 83%. There were significant and negative correlations between serum vitamin E and number of total leukocytes and neutrophils.

Conclusions: Major depression is accompanied by significantly lower serum vitamin E concentrations, suggesting lower antioxidant defenses against lipid peroxidation. The results could, in part, explain previous findings, which suggest increased lipid peroxidation in major depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Depressive Disorder / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vitamin E / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Vitamin E