Interferon-induced depressive illness in hep C patients responds to SSRI antidepressant treatments

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2006 Sep;2(3):355-8. doi: 10.2147/nedt.2006.2.3.355.


This paper examines the role of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of hepatitis-C virus (HCV) patients who have developed interferon-alpha induced depression. A 2-year data analysis of HCV psychiatric liaison clinic has been undertaken. The diagnosis, treatment, and progress of those patients who were treated with interferon-alpha (INF-alpha) are reported. 53 of the 78 patients enrolled at the HCV Clinic and treated with INF-alpha were referred for psychiatric consultation. Six patients developed major depressive illness following INF therapy. They were all treated with SSRIs and they made full recovery. This is a significant observation and is concordant with other studies. Its biochemical ramifications are presented. It is concluded that INF-induced depression is fully reversible. A hypothesis is proposed that SSRIs modulate the neuro-protective neurotoxic ratio by possibly inhibiting the indole-2,3-dioxygenase induction of the kynurenine pathway.

Keywords: 3-dioxygenase; SSRIs; hepatitis-C virus (HCV); indole-2; interferon-α; major depression.