Project Details


The applicants have been investigating associations between clinical
depression and immunity. This research, which has been supported by the
NIMH Small Grants Program, 1 R03 MH 37774-01MSMB, demonstrated that
responses to T cell and T-dependent B cell mitogens as well as the absolute
number of lymphocytes and T and B cells were significantly lower in drug
free hospitalized patients with major depressive disorder than in
apparently healthy matched controls. We also found that a group of less
severely depressed outpatients with major depressive disorder had no
changes in mitogen responses but did have a decrease in the number of
lymphocytes and that hospitalized schizophrenics did not differ from
matched controls on any of the immune measures. These findings suggest
that depression is associated with altered immune function. The proposed
research will investigate whether altered immunity is specific to the state
of being depressed and if it is related to severity of the illness. Immune
function will therefore be assessed in drug free patients with mild and
severe depressive disorders compared with matched controls during
depression and in clinical remission. Studies of alterations of immunity in depression may provide information
about underlying neurobiological processes in depressive states. The
immune changes may be related to other biological systems which can
influence the lymphocyte and other immunocompetent and immunoregulatory
cells. Neuroendocrine function and specifically cortisol secretion will
therefore be investigated in relation to altered immunity in depressed
patients. To further elucidate the biological processes which may link
depression and the immune system, a comprehensive investigation of immunity
will be undertaken, including: antigen as well as mitogen responses,
T-independent B cell mitogen responses, numbers of T, T helper, T
suppressor and B lymphocytes, natural killer cell function, and phagocyte
activity. These studies may help to elucidate the pathophysiology of
depressive states manifested in patterns of dysregulation of
neurotransmitter, neuroendocrine and immune systems. The investigation of
specific alterations in the immune system of depressives and their
behavioral and neurobiological correlates may also provide a biologic basis
for precise diagnosis of affective diseases as well as of risk factors.
The findings may ultimately suggest strategies for intervention and
treatment of depression.
Effective start/end date9/1/848/31/87


  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)

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