Background: The macrophage theory of depression states that macrophages play an important role in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Methods: MDD patients (N = 140) and healthy controls (N = 120) participated in a cross-sectional study investigating the expression of apoptosis/growth and lipid/cholesterol pathway genes (BAX, BCL10, EGR1, EGR2, HB-EGF, NR1H3, ABCA1, ABCG1, MVK, CD163, HMOX1) in monocytes (macrophage/microglia precursors). Gene expressions were correlated to a set of previously determined and reported inflammation-regulating genes and analyzed with respect to various clinical parameters.
Results: MDD monocytes showed an overexpression of the apoptosis/growth/cholesterol and the TNF genes forming an inter-correlating gene cluster (cluster 3) separate from the previously described inflammation-related gene clusters (containing IL1 and IL6). While upregulation of monocyte gene cluster 3 was a hallmark of monocytes of all MDD patients, upregulation of the inflammation-related clusters was confirmed to be found only in the monocytes of patients with childhood adversity. The latter group also showed a downregulation of the cholesterol metabolism gene MVK, which is known to play an important role in trained immunity and proneness to inflammation.
Conclusions: The upregulation of cluster 3 genes in monocytes of all MDD patients suggests a premature aging of the cells, i.e. mitochondrial apoptotic dysfunction and TNF "inflammaging", as a general feature of MDD. The overexpression of the IL-1/IL-6 containing inflammation clusters and the downregulation of MVK in monocytes of patients with childhood adversity indicates a shift in this condition to a more severe inflammation form (pyroptosis) of the cells, additional to the signs of premature aging and inflammaging.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry|
|Early online date||23-Jun-2021|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 23-Jun-2021|
- Major depressive disorder
- Childhood adversity
- Cholesterol pathway