The independent role of body mass index (Bmi) and severity of depressive symptoms on biological changes of women affected by overweight/obesity

Stand-Up Project Group, Simona Iodice, Alessandro Ceresa, Cecilia Maria Esposito, Francesco Mucci, Diana Misaela Conti, Laura Pergoli, Letizia Tarantini, Luisella Vigna, Valentina Bollati, Massimiliano Buoli, Marta Serati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Both obesity and depression are medical conditions associated with severe disability and biological abnormalities. Our aim was to study associations between Body Mass Index (BMI), depression and biological changes in women affected by overweight or obesity. Methods: Depressive symptoms were evaluated by the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II) questionnaire in 200 women affected by overweight/obesity (mean age of the sample 52.7 ± 12.9 years, BMI 33.8 ± 5.5 kg/m2). A blood sample was obtained for evaluation of biochemical (oxytocin and vitamin D), inflammatory and epigenetic (methylation of clock genes) parameters. Multivariable linear regression models were used to study the association between BMI or severity of depressive symptoms (BDI-II scores) with different biomarkers. Results: BMI was found to be associated with severity of depressive symptoms (p = 0.050). Severity of obesity resulted to be associated with lower plasma levels of oxytocin (p = 0.053), vitamin D deficiency (p = 0.006) and higher plasma levels of IFN-γ (p = 0.004), IL-6 (p = 0.013), IL-7 (p = 0.013), TNF-alpha (p = 0.036) and chemokine ligand 3 (CCL3) (p = 0.013, R2 = 0.03). Severity of depression was significantly associated with more methylation of clock genes CRY1 (p = 0.034, R2 = 0.16) and CRY2 (p = 0.019, R2 = 0.47). More severe depression together with higher levels of IL-8 strongly predicted lower methylation of CLOCK gene (p = 0.009); Conclusions: Different biological abnormalities have been found to be independently associated with BMI and severity of depressive symptoms in women affected by overweight/obesity. The complex interplay between overweight, depression and biological changes will have to be better clarified by future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2923
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2021


  • Clock genes
  • Depression
  • Gender
  • Hormones
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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