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Interleukin-6 as a predictor of symptom resolution in psychological distress: a cohort study

journal contribution
posted on 2015-10-30, 15:29 authored by Marianna Virtanen, Martin J. Shipely, G. David Batty, Mark Hamer, C.L. Allan, Gordon Lowe, K.P. Ebmeier, Tasnime N. Akbaraly, H. Alenius, R. Haapakoski, Archana Singh-Manoux, Mika Kivimaki
Background Elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) have been associated with the development of common mental disorders, such as depression, but its role in symptom resolution is unclear. Method We examined the association between IL-6 and symptom resolution in a non-clinical sample of participants with psychological distress. Results Relative to high IL-6 levels, low levels at baseline were associated with symptom resolution at follow-up [age- and sex-adjusted risk ratio (RR) = 1.15, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–1.25]. Further adjustment for covariates had little effect on the association. Symptomatic participants with repeated low IL-6 were more likely to be symptom-free at follow-up compared with those with repeated high IL-6 (RR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.03–1.41). Among the symptomatic participants with elevated IL-6 at baseline, IL-6 decreased along with symptom resolution. Conclusions IL-6 is potentially related to the mechanisms underlying recovery from symptoms of mental ill health. Further studies are needed to examine these mechanisms and to confirm the findings in relation to clinical depression.


The Whitehall II Study is supported by grants from the Medical Research Council (K013351); British Heart Foundation; National Heart Blood and Lung Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA (R01HL036310); and the National Institute of Aging, NIH, USA (R01AG013196 and R01AG034454). M.V. is supported by the Academy of Finland (258598, 265174). M.J.S. and M.H. are supported by the British Heart Foundation. G.D.B. is a member of the University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross-council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (G0700704/ 84698) and a Wellcome Trust Fellow during the 6 M. Virtanen et al. preparation of this manuscript. K.P.E. is supported by the Medical Research Council (G1001354), T.N.A. by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (R01HL036310) and by the Languedoc-Roussillon Region (Chercheur d’avenir grant 2011), A.S.-M. by the National Institute of Aging, NIH, USA (R01AG013196 and R01AG034454) and C.L.A by OHSRC/NOF/BRU/ OUCAGS. M.K. is supported by the Medical Research Council, the NIH, USA (R01HL036310, R01AG034454) and a professorial fellowship from the Economic and Social Research Council.



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Psychological Medicine


VIRTANEN, M. ... et al., 2015. Interleukin-6 as a predictor of symptom resolution in psychological distress: a cohort study. Psychological Medicine, 45 (10), pp 2137-2144.


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