Multiple Reciprocal Relationships Between in Vivo Cellular Immunity and Hypothalamic—Pituitary—Adrenal Axis in Depression

H. Y. Meltzer, W. Stevens, P. Cosyns, P. Blockx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Major depression is reportedly characterized by increased activity of the hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and by in vivo immune activation. The present study was carried out in order to investigate the relationships between HPA-axis activity and in vivo immune function in depression. Towards this end the following parameters were measured: 24 h urinary cortisol (UC) excretion; basal and post-dexamethasone (DST) plasma cortisol, β-endorphin/β-lipotropin (βEND/βLPH) and dexamethasone concentrations; and leucocyte subsets (i.e. lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes, CD4+, CD4+CD45RA+, CD4+CD45RO+, CD8+, CD8+CD57+, CD8+CD57-, HLA-DR+, CD25+ T cells, HLA-DR+, CD19+, CD20+, and CD21+ B cells) both pre-and post-DST. Dexamethasone administration (1 mg orally) induced leucocytosis, lymphocytopaenia, monocytopaenia and neutrophilia. HPA-axis non-suppressors exhibited a relative resistance to the enhancing (e.g. neutrophils) or depressant (e.g. lymphocytes, CD4+ T cells) effects of dexamethasone. There were significant correlations between UC excretion and the number of percentage of lymphocytes, monocytes, CD4+CD45RA+ and CD8+CD57-T cells (negatively) and neutrophils (positively). It is concluded that multiple and complex intertwined relationships between HPA-axis hyperactivity and systemic immune stimulation participate in the pathophysiology or pathogenesis of major depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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