Longitudinal associations between adolescents' individualised risk for depression and inflammation in a UK cohort study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Inflammation is associated with poor physical and mental health including major depressive disorder (MDD). Moreover, there is evidence that childhood adversity - a risk factor for MDD - becomes biologically embedded via elevated inflammation. However, the risk of developing MDD arises from multiple sources and yet there has been little investigation of the links between individuals' constellation of MDD risk and subsequent inflammation. We therefore examined associations between individual risk for MDD calculated in early adolescence and levels of inflammation six years later. We use data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally representative UK birth cohort of 2,232 children followed to age 18 with 93% retention. Participants' individual risk for developing future MDD was calculated at age 12 using a recently developed prediction model comprising multiple psychosocial factors. Plasma levels of three inflammation biomarkers were measured at age 18: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and a newer biomarker, soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), which is thought to reflect the level of systemic chronic inflammation. MDD risk scores calculated at age 12 were positively associated with levels of suPAR (but not CRP or IL-6) at age 18 after adjusting for key covariates (b = 1.70, 95% CI = 0.46 - 2.95, p = 0.007). Adolescents at high risk of MDD (risk scores ≥ 90th centile) had significantly higher mean levels of suPAR six years later than adolescents who had been identified as low risk (risk scores ≤ 10th centile) (b = 0.41, 95% CI = 0.18 - 0.64, p < 0.001). Findings support the notion that childhood psychosocial risk for MDD leads to increased levels of low-grade inflammation. If replicated in studies with repeated assessments of inflammation biomarkers throughout childhood and adolescence, these findings would support targeted interventions to reduce inflammation, as measured by suPAR, for adolescents at high risk of MDD to potentially prevent development of depression and physical health problems related to chronic inflammation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Latham, RM; Kieling, C; Arseneault, L; Kohrt, BA; Moffitt, TE; Rasmussen, LJH; Rocha, TB-M; Mondelli, V; Fisher, HL

Published Date

  • March 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 101 /

Start / End Page

  • 78 - 83

PubMed ID

  • 34990745

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8906711

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1090-2139

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.bbi.2021.12.027


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands