Rebecca Rosser

University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States

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Publications (7)35.3 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Several psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD), are associated with increased blood markers of oxidative stress. The relevance of this to the oxidation-sensitive hippocampus (HC) is unknown. We investigated the relationship between peripheral oxidative stress markers and HC volume in unmedicated individuals with MDD (n=16) and healthy controls (n=19). To conserve power, our primary analysis was carried out in the combined group of subjects, and secondary analyses examined each group separately. Oxidative stress markers (oxidized glutathione) and antioxidants (reduced glutathione, glutathione peroxidase, Vitamin C) were assessed, and a “total net antioxidant score” was calculated. 4-T MRI estimated total HC volume and HC subfield (CA1, CA1-CA2 transition zone, subiculum and CA3/dentate gyrus [CA3&DG]) volumes. Across groups, the antioxidant score was significantly and positively correlated with total HC volume and CA3&DG subfield volume, adjusting for age and sex. Similar relationships were observed in each individual group but missed statistical significance, likely due to type II errors, with the exception of a significant correlation between the antioxidant score and CA3&DG volume in the MDD group. These preliminary data are consistent with oxidative stress being associated with smaller total HC and CA3&DG subfield volumes.
    Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging 09/2014; · 3.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with poor physical and mental health outcomes in adulthood. Adverse childhood experiences are also associated with shortened leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in adults, suggesting accelerated cell aging. No studies have yet assessed the relationship of ACEs to LTL in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD), despite the high incidence of antecedent ACEs in individuals with MDD. Further, no studies in any population have assessed the relationship of ACEs to the activity of telomerase, the major enzyme responsible for maintaining LTL, or the relationship between telomerase and LTL in individuals with ACEs. Methods Twenty healthy, unmedicated adults with MDD and 20 healthy age-, sex- and ethnicity-matched controls had ACEs assessed and had blood drawn for LTL and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) resting telomerase activity. Results In healthy controls, greater ACE exposure was associated with shorter LTL (p<.05) but was unassociated with telomerase activity. In MDD, however, the opposite pattern was seen: greater ACE exposure was unrelated to LTL but was associated with increased telomerase activity (p<.05) and with a higher telomerase:LTL ratio (p=.022). Limitations Study limitations include the small sample size, a single timepoint assessment of telomerase activity, and the use of retrospective self-report to assess ACEs. Conclusions These results replicate prior findings of shortened LTL in healthy adults with histories of multiple ACEs. However, in MDD, this relationship was substantially altered, raising the possibility that activation of telomerase in ACE-exposed individuals with MDD could represent a compensatory response to endangered telomeres.
    Journal of Affective Disorders. 01/2014; 169:86–90.
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress have been implicated in the pathophysiology of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as in a number of chronic medical conditions. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between peripheral inflammatory and oxidative stress markers in un-medicated subjects with MDD compared to non-depressed healthy controls and compared to subjects with MDD after antidepressant treatment. We examined the relationships between IL-6, IL-10, and the IL-6/ IL-10 inflammatory ratio vs. F2-isoprostanes (F2-IsoP), a marker of oxidative stress, in un-medicated MDD patients (n=20) before and after eights weeks of open-label sertraline treatment (n=17), compared to healthy non-depressed controls (n=20). Among the un-medicated MDD subjects, F2-IsoP concentrations were positively correlated with IL-6 concentrations (p< 0.05) and were negatively correlated with IL-10 concentrations (p< 0.01). Accordingly, F2-IsoP concentrations were positively correlated with the ratio of IL-6/ IL-10 (p< 0.01). In contrast, in the control group, there were no significant correlations between F2-IsoPs and either cytokine or their ratio. After MDD subjects were treated with sertraline for 8 weeks, F2-IsoPs were no longer significantly correlated with IL-6, IL-10 or the IL-6/ IL-10 ratio. These data suggest oxidative stress and inflammatory processes are positively associated in untreated MDD. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the homeostatic buffering mechanisms regulating oxidation and inflammation in healthy individuals become dysregulated in untreated MDD, and may be improved with antidepressant treatment. These findings may help explain the increased risk of comorbid medical illnesses in MDD.
    Brain Behavior and Immunity 11/2012; · 5.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The "neurotrophin hypothesis" of depression posits a role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depression, although it is unknown whether BDNF is more involved in the etiology of depression or in the mechanism of action of antidepressants. It is also unknown whether pre-treatment serum BDNF levels predict antidepressant response. Thirty un-medicated depressed subjects were treated with escitalopram (N=16) or sertraline (N=14) for 8 weeks. Twenty-five of the depressed subjects completed 8 weeks of antidepressant treatment and had analyzable data. Twenty-eight healthy controls were also studied. Serum for BDNF assay was obtained at baseline in all subjects and after 8 weeks of treatment in the depressed subjects. Depression ratings were obtained at baseline and after 8 weeks of treatment in the depressed subjects. Pre-treatment BDNF levels were lower in the depressed subjects than the controls (p=0.001) but were not significantly correlated with pre-treatment depression severity. Depression ratings improved with SSRI treatment (p<0.001), and BDNF levels increased with treatment (p=0.005). Changes in BDNF levels were not significantly correlated with changes in depression ratings. However, pre-treatment BDNF levels were directly correlated with antidepressant responses (p<0.01), and "Responders" to treatment (≥ 50% improvement in depression ratings) had higher pre-treatment BDNF levels than did "Non-responders" (p<0.05). These results confirm low serum BDNF levels in un-medicated depressed subjects and confirm antidepressant-induced increases in BDNF levels, but they suggest that antidepressants do not work simply by correcting BDNF insufficiency. Rather, these findings are consistent with a permissive or facilitatory role of BDNF in the mechanism of action of antidepressants.
    Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 08/2011; 35(7):1623-30. · 3.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that cap linear DNA strands, protecting DNA from damage. When telomeres critically shorten, cells become susceptible to senescence and apoptosis. Telomerase, a cellular ribonucleoprotein enzyme, rebuilds the length of telomeres and promotes cellular viability. Leukocyte telomeres are reportedly shortened in major depression, but telomerase activity in depression has not been previously reported. Further, there are no published reports of the effects of antidepressants on telomerase activity or on the relationship between telomerase activity and antidepressant response. Peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) telomerase activity was assessed in 20 medication-free depressed individuals and 18 controls. In total, 16 of the depressed individuals were then treated with sertraline in an open-label manner for 8 weeks, and PBMC telomerase activity was reassessed in 15 of these individuals after treatment. Pre- and post-treatment symptom severity was rated with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. All analyses were corrected for age and sex. Pre-treatment telomerase activity was significantly elevated in the depressed individuals compared with the controls (P=0.007) and was directly correlated with depression ratings (P<0.05) across all subjects. In the depressed group, individuals with relatively lower pre-treatment telomerase activity and with relatively greater increase in telomerase activity during treatment, showed superior antidepressant responses (P<0.05 and P<0.005, respectively). This is the first report characterizing telomerase activity in depressed individuals. PBMC telomerase activity might reflect a novel aspect of depressive pathophysiology and might represent a novel biomarker of antidepressant responsiveness.
    Molecular Psychiatry 01/2011; 17(2):164-72. · 15.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Depression is associated with an unusually high rate of aging-related illnesses and early mortality. One aspect of "accelerated aging" in depression may be shortened leukocyte telomeres. When telomeres critically shorten, as often occurs with repeated mitoses or in response to oxidation and inflammation, cells may die. Indeed, leukocyte telomere shortening predicts early mortality and medical illnesses in non-depressed populations. We sought to determine if leukocyte telomeres are shortened in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), whether this is a function of lifetime depression exposure and whether this is related to putative mediators, oxidation and inflammation. Leukocyte telomere length was compared between 18 unmedicated MDD subjects and 17 controls and was correlated with lifetime depression chronicity and peripheral markers of oxidation (F2-isoprostane/Vitamin C ratio) and inflammation (IL-6). Analyses were controlled for age and sex. The depressed group, as a whole, did not differ from the controls in telomere length. However, telomere length was significantly inversely correlated with lifetime depression exposure, even after controlling for age (p<0.05). Average telomere length in the depressed subjects who were above the median of lifetime depression exposure (≥9.2 years' cumulative duration) was 281 base pairs shorter than that in controls (p<0.05), corresponding to approximately seven years of "accelerated cell aging." Telomere length was inversely correlated with oxidative stress in the depressed subjects (p<0.01) and in the controls (p<0.05) and with inflammation in the depressed subjects (p<0.05). These preliminary data indicate that accelerated aging at the level of leukocyte telomeres is proportional to lifetime exposure to MDD. This might be related to cumulative exposure to oxidative stress and inflammation in MDD. This suggest that telomere shortening does not antedate depression and is not an intrinsic feature. Rather, telomere shortening may progress in proportion to lifetime depression exposure.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(3):e17837. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Elevated circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines are associated with symptoms of depression, and disorders involving chronic inflammation are often co-morbid with major depression. Since healthy immune regulation is accomplished through counter-balancing effects of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, we hypothesized that depressed subjects (compared to controls) would express lower concentrations of the anti-inflammatory/immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10, and a higher IL-6/IL-10 ratio. We also examined the possibility that depressed subjects may exhibit a deficiency in the regulatory loop involving IL-6 induced secretion of IL-10. Therefore, we hypothesized that circulating IL-6 and IL-10 would be positively correlated in controls, while the correlation would be weaker in depressed subjects. Resting state serum cytokine concentrations were quantified in 12 unmedicated depressed subjects, and 11 age, gender, and ethnicity-matched controls. Depressed subjects showed significantly lower IL-10 (p=0.03, Cohen's d=-0.96), non-significantly higher IL-6, and significantly higher IL-6/IL-10 ratios (p=0.05, Cohen's d=0.50). Across all participants, higher scores on the self-rated Inventory of Depressive Symptoms were associated with lower IL-10 (r(21)=-0.57, p=0.005) and non-significantly higher IL-6/IL-10 ratios (r(21)=0.38, p=0.07), but not related to IL-6 concentrations. As hypothesized, IL-6 and IL-10 concentrations were strongly and positively correlated in controls (r(9)=0.81, p=0.003), but were completely dissociated in depressed subjects (r(10)=0.01, p=0.98). These results suggest that lower IL-10 levels, a higher IL-6/IL-10 ratio, and the apparent absence of a counter-balancing, immunoregulatory increase in IL-10 in response to elevated IL-6 concentrations contribute to the pro-inflammatory physiological milieu that is known to be associated with major depression. Therefore, reduced induction/availability of IL-10, that would normally inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine actions and resolve inflammation, may contribute to the depressogenic as well as the inflammatory disease-promoting effects of chronic, low-level elevations in pro-inflammatory cytokines.
    Journal of Psychiatric Research 07/2009; 43(11):962-9. · 4.09 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

214 Citations
35.30 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • University of California, San Francisco
      • Division of Hospital Medicine
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2009
    • CSU Mentor
      • Department of Medicine
      Long Beach, California, United States
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
      Stanford, CA, United States