Lack of clinical therapeutic benefit of antidepressants is associated overall activation of the inflammatory system

J Affect Disord. 2013 May 15;148(1):136-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.10.036. Epub 2012 Nov 27.


Despite the evidence of an association between depression and increased inflammatory markers, still little is known in relation to the most severe cases of the disorder i.e., those who fail to respond to antidepressants. We have assessed the cytokine profile and cortisol levels in 21 healthy controls (HC) and 19 medicated patients with depression with treatment-resistance (TRD) moderately ill. As an initial exploratory analysis, we have also related cytokine profile to the patient's clinical treatment outcome after an inpatient admission. Cytokine profile was measured in the serum by the Cytokine Array I kit (Randox). Plasma cortisol was carried out using a commercially available for the IMMULITE system. When compared to healthy controls, depressed patients had higher levels of cortisol, IL-6, IL-10, but lower levels of IL-4 and VEGF. Our exploratory analysis showed subjects who did not go on to respond to the inpatient admission treatment package had lower levels of MCP-1, and a trend toward lower levels of VEGF. Taking together, these data suggest that lack of clinical therapeutic benefit of antidepressants is associated with overall activation of the inflammatory system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Depression / blood*
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Inflammation / chemically induced*
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Interleukin-4 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Hydrocortisone