Pro-inflammatory biomakers in depression: treatment with venlafaxine

World J Biol Psychiatry. 2009;10(4):313-23. doi: 10.3109/15622970802573246.


High levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers have been reported in depression. In the present study, five pro-inflammatory biomarkers were measured in the blood of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Biomarker levels were compared to age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Patients with MDD had significantly higher baseline levels of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha, P=0.04), interleukin-1beta (IL1beta, P=0.03), and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1; P=0.02) compared to controls. There were no differences between groups in levels of cell determinant-40 ligand (CD40L) and C-reactive protein (CRP). A subset of the MDD patients consented to undergo treatment with venlafaxine (an SNRI: at lower doses a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; at higher doses also a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) for 8 weeks. By week 8, all treatment completers had responded therapeutically. However, levels of TNFalpha, IL1beta, and MCP-1 remained elevated. A concave quadratic equation described the associations between plasma venlafaxine concentrations and IL1beta (P=0.03), TNFalpha (P=0.09), and MCP-1 (P=0.02), suggesting that these biomarkers may have become selectively lowered in the serotonergic dose range of venlafaxine. This is the first report of venlafaxine's possible effect on pro-inflammatory biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclohexanols / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / immunology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Reference Values
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride