Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar depression (BD) both share increased immune-inflammatory activation. However, there are unclear patterns of differences in peripheral immune profiles between them.
Methods: We examined such differences in 245 MDD and 59 BD patients, recruited in the same center, who were in an acute depressive episode of moderate severity. Hierarchical binary logistic regression analyses and generalized linear models were used to compare levels of plasma biomarkers between groups and to predict dichotomous classification.
Results: Interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, soluble TNF receptor (sTNFR)1, IL-12 and IL-10 were significantly higher in MDD than in BD, whereas IL-6, sTNFR2, IL-18, IL-33, ST2 (IL1R Like 1) and KLOTHO were significantly higher in BD than in MDD. Moreover, logistic regression analyses correctly classified BD and MDD patients with 98.1% accuracy, using a combination of IL-6, IL-8, ST2, sTNFR2 (directly associated with BD) and IL-12 and TNF-α (directly associated with MDD). Patients with MDD with melancholic features showed higher IL-1β levels than those without melancholia. The sTNFR1 / sTNFR2 ratio significantly predicted MDD and state and trait anxiety and negative affect. Results remained significant after covariate adjustment, including drug use.
Limitations: Cross-sectional study. Lack of control comparison group. Differences in exposure to medications among participants.
Conclusions: Differences in immune profiles between BD and MDD patients exist, especially for the compensatory immune-regulatory system (CIRS): increased IL-10 is the primary immune-regulatory mechanism in MDD, while increased sTNFR2 and KLOTHO are the primary regulatory mechanisms in BD.
Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Cytokines; Immunology; Inflammation; Major depressive disorder; Psychiatry.
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