Objectives: Existing and previously published datasets were examined for associations between illness and treatment characteristics and monocyte pro-inflammatory gene expression in patients with bipolar disorder (BD). We hypothesized a priori that increased monocyte pro-inflammatory gene expression would be found more frequently in patients with a lifetime history of psychotic symptoms.
Methods: Monocyte quantitative polymerase chain reaction and symptom data from 64 patients with BD were collected from three Dutch studies. Regression analyses were performed to analyze the various associations between pro-inflammatory gene expression and clinical features, from which feature-expression heat maps were drawn.
Results: No associations were found between pro-inflammatory gene expression and lifetime psychotic symptoms, whereas a positive association was identified between subcluster 2 genes and manic symptoms. For several subcluster 1a genes, a negative association was found with age at onset. For most subcluster 2 genes, a positive association was found with the duration of illness. Current use of antidepressants and of anti-epileptic agents was associated with subcluster 2 gene expression, and current use of lithium and antipsychotic agents with subcluster 1a gene expression.
Conclusions: Our hypothesis that lifetime psychotic features would be associated with pro-inflammatory monocyte gene expression was not confirmed. In an explorative analysis we found: (i) a possible relationship between pro-inflammatory gene expression and manic symptomatology; (ii) a differential immune activation related to age at onset and duration of illness; and (iii) support for the concept of an immune suppressive action of some of the mood-regulating medications.
Keywords: bipolar disorder; gene expression; inflammation; monocyte; phenotype.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.