African Journal of

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Biotechnol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1684-5315
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJB
  • Start Year: 2002
  • Published Articles: 12291

Full Length Research Paper

Fluoxetine treatment for major depression decreases the plasma levels of cytokines

Yuedi Shen1, Peilin Lu2,4, Lili Wei3,4, liqiang Cai3,4, Xingyue Hu2,4 and Wei Chen3,4*
1Department of Diagnostics, Clinical Medical School, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310036, China. 2Department of Neurology, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University School of medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310016, China. 3Department of Psychiatry, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University School of medicine, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310016, China. 4Sir Run Run Shaw Institute of Clinical Medicine of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310016, China.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 24 September 2010
  •  Published: 25 October 2010


Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers have been reported in major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study is to investigate the plasma levels of interleukin-18 (IL-18), macrophage-inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), stromal cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1), and regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES) in patients with MDD before and after eight week treatment of fluoxetine hydrochloride in comparison with normal controls. All subjects were assessed before and after treatment with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). Our results showed that the symptoms of forty healthy controls and thirty-four patients with MDD were correlated with their plasma levels of IL-18, MIP-1α, MCP-1, SDF-1α, and RANTES. The levels of all five cytokine of patients with MDD were significantly decreased after treatment. However, the levels remained significantly higher than those of the healthy controls (p<0.001). In the seven depressed subjects whose HDRS score fell to below seven after antidepressant therapy comparing with those subjects whose HDRS score larger than seven, the mean levels of IL-18 (p=0.01) and SDF-1α(p<0.05) were significantly lower. Conversely, higher levels of cytokines correlated with a persistently increased severity of symptoms, as measured by the HDRS scores. In conclusion, these findings suggest that MDD is associated with activation of the immune system, and the antidepressant effect of fluoxetine may be mediated in part through its anti-inflammatory effects.


Key words: Fluoxetine hydrochloride, major depression, cytokine, chemokine, inflammation.


MDD, Major depressive disorder; HPA, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal; MCP-1, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1; SDF-1, stromal cell derived factor-1; MIP-1α, macrophage-inflammatory protein-1α; RANTES, regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted; 5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine; IL-6,interleukin-6; SSRI,  Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; HDRS, Hamilton depression rating scale; ESR, erythrocyte sedimentation rates; ELISA, enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay; TNF, tumor necrosis factor; TRP, tryptophan; LTP,long-term potentiation;  NMDA, N-methyl d-aspartate.