Thyroid Autoimmune Antibodies and Major Depressive Disorder in Women

Ann Acad Med Singap. 2015 Aug;44(8):284-9.


Introduction: Anti-thyroid antibodies are associated with extra-thyroid diseases such as Graves' ophthalmopathy and Hashimoto's encephalopathy. Some evidence suggests that anti-thyroid antibodies are also associated with depression. Interleukin (IL)-17 appears to play an important role in autoimmune thyroid disease. This study investigated whether specific thyroid autoantibodies and IL-17 distinguished persons with depression from non-depressed controls.

Materials and methods: Forty-seven adult females with non-psychotic, current major depressive disorder and 80 healthy female controls participated in this study. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) receptor antibodies, free T3 and T4, TSH and IL-17 were measured from the serum. Measurements were repeated to assess test-retest reliability. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to estimate discriminatory values of the measurements. Differences between groups and associations between the clinical and biochemical assessments were analysed.

Results: Median TSH receptor antibody concentration was significantly higher in the depressed than control group (P <0.001). Area under the ROC curve was 0.80 (95% CI, 0.73 to 0.88). Higher TSH receptor antibody titres were associated with greater depression severity scores (r = 0.33, P <0.05). IL-17 levels were not associated with TSH receptor antibody levels or depression severity scores. Thyroid function and other thyroid autoantibodies were not associated with depression severity.

Conclusion: TSH receptor antibodies might be a biomarker of immune dysfunction in depression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating / blood*
  • Interleukin-17 / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • ROC Curve
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Thyroid Gland / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating
  • Interleukin-17
  • anti-thyroglobulin
  • thyrotropin-binding inhibitory immunoglobulin