Dysregulated relationship of inflammation and oxidative stress in major depression

B. J. Rawdin, S. H. Mellon, F. S. Dhabhar, E. S. Epel, E. Puterman, Y. Su, H. M. Burke, V. I. Reus, R. Rosser, S. P. Hamilton, J. C. Nelson, O. M. Wolkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress have been implicated in the pathophysiology of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as in a number of chronic medical conditions. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between peripheral inflammatory and oxidative stress markers in un-medicated subjects with MDD compared to non-depressed healthy controls and compared to subjects with MDD after antidepressant treatment. We examined the relationships between IL-6, IL-10, and the IL-6/IL-10 inflammatory ratio vs. F2-isoprostanes (F2-IsoP), a marker of oxidative stress, in un-medicated MDD patients (n=. 20) before and after 8. weeks of open-label sertraline treatment (n=. 17), compared to healthy non-depressed controls (n=. 20). Among the un-medicated MDD subjects, F2-IsoP concentrations were positively correlated with IL-6 concentrations (p<. 0.05) and were negatively correlated with IL-10 concentrations (p<. 0.01). Accordingly, F2-IsoP concentrations were positively correlated with the ratio of IL-6/IL-10 (p<. 0.01). In contrast, in the control group, there were no significant correlations between F2-IsoPs and either cytokine or their ratio. After MDD subjects were treated with sertraline for 8. weeks, F2-IsoPs were no longer significantly correlated with IL-6, IL-10 or the IL-6/IL-10 ratio. These data suggest oxidative stress and inflammatory processes are positively associated in untreated MDD. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the homeostatic buffering mechanisms regulating oxidation and inflammation in healthy individuals become dysregulated in untreated MDD, and may be improved with antidepressant treatment. These findings may help explain the increased risk of comorbid medical illnesses in MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • F2-isoprostane
  • IL-10
  • IL-6
  • Inflammation
  • Oxidation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Sertraline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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