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Persistent depressive symptoms, HPA-axis hyperactivity, and inflammation: the role of cognitive-affective and somatic symptoms

Iob, E; Kirschbaum, C; Steptoe, A; (2019) Persistent depressive symptoms, HPA-axis hyperactivity, and inflammation: the role of cognitive-affective and somatic symptoms. Molecular Psychiatry 10.1038/s41380-019-0501-6. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis hyperactivity and inflammation are thought to be prominent in the aetiology of depression. Although meta-analyses have confirmed this relationship, there is considerable variability in the effect sizes across studies. This could be attributed to a differential role of such biological systems in somatic versus cognitive-affective depressive symptoms which remains largely unexplored. Furthermore, most longitudinal research to date has focused on transient rather than persistent depressive symptoms. In the current study, we investigated the associations of hair cortisol and plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) with the longitudinal persistence and dimensions (cognitive-affective versus somatic) of depressive symptoms over a 14-year period using Trait‐State‐Occasion (TSO) structural equation modelling. The data came from a large sample of older adults from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Depressive symptoms were assessed from wave 1 (2002–03) to wave 8 (2016–17). Hair cortisol (N = 4761) and plasma CRP (N = 5784) were measured in wave 6 (2012–13). Covariates included demographic, socioeconomic, lifestyle, chronic disease, and medication data. Our results revealed that higher cortisol and CRP levels were significantly associated with persistent depressive symptoms across the study period. Notably, both biomarkers exhibited stronger relationships with somatic than with cognitive-affective symptoms. The associations with somatic symptoms were also independent of relevant confounding factors. In contrast, their associations with cognitive-affective symptoms were weak after adjustment for all covariates. These distinct associations reveal the importance of considering symptom-specific effects in future studies on pathophysiological mechanisms. Ultimately, this will have the potential to advance the search for biomarkers of depression and facilitate more targeted treatments.

Type: Article
Title: Persistent depressive symptoms, HPA-axis hyperactivity, and inflammation: the role of cognitive-affective and somatic symptoms
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41380-019-0501-6
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0501-6
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10080629
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