Inflammatory dietary pattern and risk of depression among women

Brain Behav Immun. 2014 Feb:36:46-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.09.014. Epub 2013 Oct 1.


Background: Inflammation is considered as a mechanism leading to depression, but the association between inflammatory dietary pattern and depression risk is unknown.

Methods: Using reduced-rank regression, we identified a dietary pattern that was related to plasma levels of inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor α receptor 2), and we conducted a prospective analysis of the relationship of this pattern and depression risk among participants in the Nurses' Health Study. A total of 43,685 women (aged 50-77) without depression at baseline (1996) were included and followed up until 2008. Diet information was obtained from food frequency questionnaires completed between 1984 through 2002 and computed as cumulative average of dietary intakes with a 2-year latency applied. We used a strict definition of depression that required both self-reported physician-diagnosed depression and use of antidepressants, and a broader definition that included women who reported either clinical diagnosis or antidepressant use.

Results: During the 12-year follow-up, we documented 2594 incident cases of depression using the stricter definition and 6446 using the broader definition. After adjustment for body mass index and other potential confounders, relative risks comparing extreme quintiles of the inflammatory dietary pattern were 1.41 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.22, 1.63; P-trend<.001) for the strict definition and 1.29 (95% CI, 1.18, 1.41; P-trend<.001) for the broader definition of depression.

Conclusions: The inflammatory dietary pattern is associated with a higher depression risk. This finding suggests that chronic inflammation may underlie the association between diet and depression.

Keywords: C-reactive protein; Cohort; Depression; Diet pattern; Inflammatory markers; Interleukin-6; Reduced-rank regression; Tumor necrosis factor α receptor 2; Women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • C-Reactive Protein