Depression in the Context of Medical Disorders: New Pharmacological Pathways Revisited

Neurosignals. 2017;25(1):54-73. doi: 10.1159/000482001. Epub 2017 Oct 17.


The depressive state has been characterised as one of elevated inflammation, changed cardiovascular parameters and a deranged metabolic situation all of which holds promise for a better understanding and handling of treatment-resistance in affective disorders as well as for future developments in treatment algorithms. In this context several biomarkers are differentially regulated by antidepressant treatment and connected to metabolic, inflammatory, cardiovascular and apoptotic components of the pathophysiology, i.e. adiponectin, apolipoprotein-B, B-type natriuretic peptide, cortisol, CRP, cysteine, homocysteine, fibrinogen, adiponectin, BMI, glycated hemoglobin A1c, leptin, interferon-gamma, high-density lipoprotein, interleukin interleukin-1alpha, -1beta, -2, -4, -5, -6, -8, -10, -12, -13, -17, insulin-like growth factor-1, low-density lipoprotein, myeloperoxidase, osteoprotegerin, tumour necrosis factor alpha, troponins, triglycerides etc. In this context antidepressants exert different modulatory effects on the outcome, incidence and mortality concerning several severe disorders, i.e. cancer, diabetes, stroke, inflammation, stroke and cardiovascular risk. Vice versa different drugs used in the treatment of these disorders have a favourable effect in depressive states, e.g. statins, aspirine, NSAIDs, pioglitazone, celecoxib, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonists and minocycline. In this review, actions of different antidepressant treatment strategies on cancer, stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders are shown and the influence on the outcome of the disorders is differentially discussed. In conclusion a hypothetic model for the implication of actual findings in everyday clinical practice is proposed. In this context personalized treatment could be used to tailor treatment to specific individuals according to their clinical endophenotypes. Moreover a potential target for the development of novel intervention strategies might be used.

Keywords: Cancer; Cardiovascular Disease; Dementia; Depression; Diabetes; Inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Dementia / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / metabolism


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Biomarkers