Cytokines and serotonin transporter in patients with major depression

Chiung Wen Tsao, Yee Shin Lin, Chwen Cheng Chen, Chyi Huey Bai, Shin Rung Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Citations (Scopus)


Altered cytokine secretion as a mechanism in the etiology of depression is still obscure. The serotonin transporter (5-HTT) may play an important role in the termination of serotonergic neurotransmission by serotonin (5-HT) uptaking into presynaptic neurons and representing as an initial action site for selective 5-HTT reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). In our study, we evaluated whether cytokines and 5-HTT acted as biological markers for depression. Blood samples were collected from 42 participants. The differences in cytokine and 5-HTT mRNA expressions of leukocytes were assessed between the patients with major depression (n = 20) and the healthy controls (n = 22), along with the measurements prior and after treatment with a SSRI, fluoxetine, for 3 months in the follow-up patient group (n = 8). The results revealed that the mRNA expressions of IL-1β, IL-6, IFNγ, TNFα, and 5-HTT were higher in the depressed patients than those of the healthy controls. The higher level of mRNA expressions of IFNγ and 5-HTT diminished after fluoxetine treatment. Furthermore, we found a positive correlation between 5-HTT and cytokines mRNA expressions in total participants, which suggested that pro-inflammatory cytokines and 5-HTT might play critical roles in the pathogenesis of major depression and that their levels were affected by chronic treatment with 5-HTT inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-905
Number of pages7
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • Major depression
  • Serotonin transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology


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