Reduced CXCL1/GRO chemokine plasma levels are a possible biomarker of elderly depression

Giuseppe Fanelli, Francesco Benedetti, Sheng Min Wang, Soo Jung Lee, Tae Youn Jun, Prakash S. Masand, Ashwin A. Patkar, Changsu Han, Alessandro Serretti, Chi Un Pae, Chiara Fabbri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Depression is the single largest contributor to non-fatal health loss worldwide. A role of inflammation in major depressive disorder (MDD) was suggested, and we sought to determine if cytokine levels predict the severity of depressive symptomatology or distinguish MDD patients from healthy controls (HCs). Methods: The severity of depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment were assessed by the Korean version of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-K) and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE-KC) in 152 elderly subjects (76 with MDD). Plasma levels of 28 cytokines were measured and analysed as continuous predictors or dichotomized using the median value. The association between individual cytokines, MDD risk and depressive symptoms severity was investigated using multiple logistic and linear regressions that included the relevant covariates. A Cytokine Weighted Score (CWS) was calculated by weighting cytokines according to previously reported effect sizes on MDD risk. Sensitivity analyses were performed excluding subjects with significant cognitive impairment. Results: CXCL10/IP-10 levels were higher in subjects with MDD vs. HCs while the opposite was observed for CXCL1/GRO. Only the second association survived after adjusting for possible confounders and excluding subjects with severe cognitive impairment. Using dichotomized cytokine levels, CXCL1/GRO and TNF-α were negatively associated with MDD. The CWS was also negatively associated with MDD. Cytokine levels did not predict the severity of depressive symptoms. Limitations: Our cross-sectional approach was not able to longitudinally evaluate any temporal fluctuations in the considered cytokine levels. Conclusions: This study found significantly lower CXCL1/GRO chemokine plasma levels in elderly subjects with MDD compared to HCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-417
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2019


  • Biomarkers
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokine weighted score
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Major depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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