Purpose of review: To provide a critical update of the literature linking depression and inflammation, together with possible underlying mechanisms and longer term risk of cardiovascular disease.
Recent findings: The current literature lends further support to the view that major depression is associated with a proinflammatory response, as indexed by elevation in C-reactive protein and cytokines such as interleukin 6 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha. Antidepressants suppress the inflammatory response, whereas electroconvulsive therapy acutely increases proinflammatory cytokine levels. Most, though not all, studies support a link between depression, inflammation and cardiovascular events.
Summary: Depression is an inflammatory state that may increase the risk of cardiac disease. Whether or not the immune system is an appropriate target for antidepressant development has yet to be established.