Objectives: To improve understanding about the potential underlying biological mechanisms in the link between depression and all-cause mortality and to investigate the role that inflammatory and other cardiovascular risk factors may play in the relationship between depressive symptoms and mortality.
Methods: Depression and blood-based biological markers were assessed in the Belfast PRIME prospective cohort study (N = 2389 men, aged 50-59 years) in which participants were followed up for 18 years. Depression was measured using the 10-item Welsh Pure Depression Inventory. Inflammation markers (C-reactive protein [CRP], neopterin, interleukin [IL]-1 receptor antagonist [IL-1Ra], and IL-18) and cardiovascular-specific risk factors (N-terminal pro-b-type natriuretic peptide, midregion pro-atrial natriuretic peptide, midregion pro-adrenomedullin, C-terminal pro-endothelin-1 [CT-proET]) were obtained at baseline. We used Cox proportional hazards modeling to examine the association between depression and biological measures in relation to all-cause mortality and explore the mediating effects.
Results: During follow-up, 418 participants died. Higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with higher levels of CRP, IL-1Ra, and CT-proET. After adjustment for socioeconomic and life-style risk factors, depressive symptoms were significantly associated with all-cause mortality (hazard ratio = 1.10 per scale unit, 95% confidence interval = 1.04-1.16). This association was partly explained by CRP (7.3%) suggesting a minimal mediation effect. IL-1Ra, N-terminal pro-b-type natriuretic peptide, midregion pro-atrial natriuretic peptide, midregion pro-adrenomedullin, and CT-proET contributed marginally to the association between depression and subsequent mortality.
Conclusions: Inflammatory and cardiovascular risk markers are associated with depression and with increased mortality. However, depression and biological measures show additive effects rather than a pattern of meditation of biological factors in the association between depression and mortality.