Inflammatory Biomarkers Can Indicate Cardiovascular Disorders in MDD

Investigators examined the frequency and severity of depression in cardiovascular disease and the influence of inflammatory markers on antidepressant treatment outcomes.

Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) are at increased risk for cardiovascular disorders, but this risk may be indicated by several inflammatory biomarkers, according to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

This case-control design included 310 individuals stratified into 3 groups: patients with MDD with no cardiovascular disorders, patients with only cardiovascular disorders, and healthy controls with no cardiological or psychiatric disorders. The study researchers found patients with MDD to have an elevated cardiovascular risk, as well as significant untreated prehypertension and signs of a metabolic syndrome. Inflammatory biomarkers were also found that indicated risk for cardiovascular disorders in individuals with MDD who were otherwise healthy. These biomarkers included the proinflammatory acute phase cytokines interleukine-6 and interleukine-1β as well as high sensitivity C reactive protein. Unexpectedly, improved clinical outcomes and remission times were found to follow high markers of inflammation prior to treatment.

Individuals with MDD were added to this study following admission to a psychiatric hospital facility. The primary outcomes included vital signs, inflammatory biomarkers, classical risk factors for cardiovascular disorders, and clinical ratings for depression (which utilized the HAM-D scale). All outcomes were compared between groups.

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The study researchers conclude that “[patients] suffering from MDD are at specific risk for [cardiovascular disorders]. Precise detection of cardiovascular risks in MDD beyond classical risk factors is warranted to allow effective prophylaxis and treatment of both conditions. Future studies of prophylactic interventions may help to provide a basis for prophylactic treatment of both MDD and [cardiovascular disorders]. In addition, the high risk for MDD in [cardiovascular disorders] patients was confirmed and underlines the requirement for clinical attention.”


Baghai TC, Varallo-Bedarida G, Born C, et al. Classical risk factors and inflammatory biomarkers: One of the missing biological links between cardiovascular disease and major depressive disorder. Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(6).