Inflammation has been implicated in depressive symptoms, but few studies use longitudinal designs with adolescents. Furthermore, the extant literature has yielded inconsistent results. Blood was collected from a community sample of 201 adolescents (109 female, ages 12.3-20.0) and analyzed for inflammatory proteins. Up to five follow-up assessments of depressive symptoms were conducted. Multi-level modeling indicated that high C-reactive protein (CRP) (but no other proinflammatory markers) predicted depressive symptom increases. Three-way interactions between different inflammatory biomarkers, sex, and months-to-follow-up predicted change in depressive symptoms. Higher interleukin-6 predicted increased depressive symptoms at 13-31 months after baseline assessment of depression and inflammation for females. Higher tumor necrosis factor-alpha predicted increased depressive symptoms at < 1 month after baseline for males and 13-31 months after baseline for females. Higher interleukin-8 in males predicted lower depressive symptoms at 31 months after baseline. Exploratory post-hoc analyses examined these predictive associations for specific subsets of depressive symptoms. These findings are the first to support the predictive association of elevated CRP for depressive symptoms in a community adolescent sample and serve as preliminary evidence that the relationship between cytokines and later depressive symptoms differs by sex, time-to-follow-up, and the specific biomarker.
Keywords: Depression; adolescent development; longitudinal methods; risk factors; sex differences.
Conflict of interest statement
Declaration of Conflicting Interests: The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.
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