Background: In a previous study, we found an up-regulated inflammatory monocyte gene expression profile in major depressive disorder (MDD) patients aged. ≥. 28. years and a down-regulated inflammatory gene expression profile in MDD patients aged. <. 28. years. In the same sample of patients, we aimed to investigate immune dysregulation in the lymphocyte arm of the immune system, particularly in the context of the described monocyte (de-)activation states. Methods: From deep frozen leukocytes, circulating percentages of monocytes, lymphocytes, B, T, and natural killer (NK) cells, and various functional subsets of T and T helper (Th) cells (Th1, Th2, Th17, and natural T regulatory cells) were measured in N =50 MDD patients and N =58 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC). In addition, serum levels of interleukin (IL)-6, sCD25, IL-7, IL-3, SCF, IGF-BP2, and EGF were evaluated. Results: MDD patients were in general characterized by an impaired maturation of Th2 cells, Th17 cells, and NK cells and by decreased serum levels of IL-7 and sCD25. MDD patients aged≥28years additionally exhibited decreased percentages of CD4+CD25highFoxP3+ T regulatory cells, next to signs of the above described partial T cell defects. Natural T regulatory cells were inversely associated with the pro-inflammatory state of the monocytes (r =-.311; p =.034) that characterized this patient subgroup. Conclusions: Deficiencies of the NK and T (regulatory) cell system and inflammatory monocyte immune activation co-occur as partly interrelated phenomena within the same MDD patients.

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Brain, Behavior, and Immunity
Department of Immunology

Grosse, L., Hoogenboezem, T., Ambree, O., Bellingrath, S., Jörgens, S., de Wit, H., … Drexhage, H. (2016). Deficiencies of the T and natural killer cell system in major depressive disorder. T regulatory cell defects are associated with inflammatory monocyte activation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 54, 38–44. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2015.12.003