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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Rachel M Latham
  • Christian Kieling
  • Louise Arseneault
  • Brandon A Kohrt
  • Terrie E Moffitt
  • Line J H Rasmussen
  • Thiago Botter-Maio Rocha
  • Valeria Mondelli
  • Helen L Fisher
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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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Pages (from-to)78-83
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Adolescence, Adversity, Biomarkers, Major depressive disorder, Mental health, Prevention, Psychopathology, Risk factors, Transition to adulthood

ID: 70585173