Links between a key immune protein and depression

A study carried out in Denmark has revealed a possible relationship involving a fundamental immune protein and the risk of developing depression. The work has been published by Archives of General Psychiatry online. According to the scientists involved, elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) correspond to higher “risk of psychological distress”.  Their study was conducted on the general population in Denmark.

When a patient’s CRP plasma reading exceeds 10 mg/L it is an indicator of inflammatory disease. CRP aids the systemic removal of necrotic and apoptotic cells during infection. Furthermore CRP has a crucial role in activation of the complement cascade, which orchestrates vital events during a normal immune response.

Dr Marie Kim Wium-Andersen and colleagues sought to establish whether elevated plasma CRP affects the incidence of depression. The data analysed were supplied by two populations in Copenhagen. The sample comprised 73,131 people of all ages. According to the authors, people with higher CRP levels were more likely to be depressed, or even hospitalised due to this depression. A great deal of future work is necessary to confirm that this correlation is causal.

According to WHO, depression is the most common cause of disability – worldwide there are approximately 350 million people affected. Nearly a million suicides a year may be attributed to the suffering experienced during depression. A potential future outcome of this Danish study could be the addition of anti-inflammatory agents to anti-depressants, so that this debilitating condition could be addressed in a ‘two-pronged’ approach.





About Sophie McManus

Sophie is a third year undergraduate studying Biomedical Sciences at Magdalen.