Early increase in vegetative symptoms predicts IFN-alpha-induced cognitive-depressive changes.

Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.
Psychological Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.94). 04/2005; 35(3):433-41.
Source: PubMed


The vegetative symptoms of depression resemble the symptoms of malaise associated with activation of the inflammatory response system (IRS), and can be regarded as an expression of a central motivational state that resets the organism's priorities to promote recovery from infection. Early vegetative symptoms, however, may also contribute to the high rates of depression seen later in the course of immune activation. We hypothesized that the onset of vegetative-depressive symptoms early in the treatment with the pro-inflammatory cytokine IFN-alpha in chronic hepatitis C patients would increase the risk for subsequent depressive cognitions.
Sixteen patients eligible for IFN-alpha treatment and free of psychiatric disorders were recruited. The DSM-IV, the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) were administered at baseline and 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24 weeks after treatment was initiated. Cognitive-depressive and vegetative-depressive symptom clusters were constructed.
Fatigue and depression scores increased significantly during IFN-alpha treatment. Depression scores were highest at week 8 of treatment. First week increase in vegetative-depressive symptom score predicted cognitive-depressive symptom score at week 8 and at week 24.
During IFN-alpha treatment, vegetative symptoms of depression appear earlier than, and are predictive of, their cognitive counterparts. This finding suggests that low mood state may in part be driven by the increase in early vegetative-depressive symptoms in the course of IFN-alpha-induced immune activation.

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    • "Scores for each item range from 0 to 6 (total possible score ¼ 60), with higher scores indicating greater symptom severity. As discussed previously (Raison et al, 2007), the MADRS has been frequently used to measure depressive symptoms during IFN-a therapy, and shows improved internal consistency in patients with comorbid medical conditions compared with other clinician-administered questionnaires (Bonaccorso et al, 2002; Capuron et al, 2000; Constant et al, 2005; Hammond, 1998; Khan et al, 2004; Wichers et al, 2005). In addition to providing a continuous score of depressive symptoms, the following scores for the MADRS have been correlated with global severity measures of depression and have been used as 'cut-off' scores for levels of severity of depressive symptoms: mild, 15; moderate, 25; and severe, 31 (Kearns et al, 1982; Yonkers and Samson, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: In patients at high risk for recurrence of malignant melanoma, interferon-α (IFN-α), a stimulator of innate immunity, appears to induce distinct neurobehavioral symptom dimensions: a mood and anxiety syndrome, and a neurovegetative syndrome, of which the former is responsive to prophylactic administration of paroxetine. We sought to determine whether symptom dimensions (and treatment responsiveness) arise in patients with hepatitis C administered IFN-α and ribavirin. In a randomized, double-blind, 6-month study, 61 patients with hepatitis C eligible for therapy with IFN-α and ribavirin received the antidepressant paroxetine (n=28) or a placebo (n=33). Study medication began 2 weeks before IFN-α/ribavirin therapy. Neuropsychiatric assessments included the 10-item Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). The items of the MADRS were grouped into depression, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, and neurovegetative symptom dimensions, and analyzed using a mixed model. By 2 weeks of IFN-α/ribavirin therapy, all four dimensions increased, with the symptom dimensions of anxiety and cognitive dysfunction fluctuating and worsening, respectively, in both groups over time. The depression symptom dimension was significantly lower in the paroxetine treatment group (p=0.04); severity of the neurovegetative symptom dimension was similar in both groups. Similar to patients with malignant melanoma receiving high-dose IFN-α, the depression symptom dimension is more responsive to paroxetine treatment in individuals undergoing concomitant IFN-α/ribavirin therapy. However, the anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, and neurovegetative symptom dimensions appear less responsive to prophylactic paroxetine administration. Different neurobiologic pathways may contribute to the responsiveness of IFN-α-induced symptom dimensions to antidepressant treatment, requiring relevant psychopharmacologic strategies.
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    • "The MFI assesses five dimensions of fatigue, including general fatigue, physical fatigue, mental fatigue, reduced activity and reduced motivation. In addition to scores for each subscale, a total score was derived by summing the 5-subscale scores (Wichers et al. 2005). Higher scores on the MADRS and MFI indicate greater symptom severity. "
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    • "Previously, it was found that in depression, lower plasma and CSF tryptophan are associated with anxiety and somatization (Joseph et al. 1984), agitation (Curzon 1979), neuromuscular symptoms, anxiety, agitation, depressed mood and catatonia (Lehmann 1972), and psychic anxiety, depersonalization, obsessions, paranoid symptoms and diurnal variation (Maes et al. 1990b). IDO activation following IFNα-based immunotherapy is also associated to the onset of somatic symptoms, which develop soon after starting treatment and which predict the outcome of the more cognitive symptoms of depression (Wichers et al. 2005a; 2005b). Terre et al. (2003) reported that somatic complaints may represent one risk factor for the subsequent development of depression. "
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