A consistent body of research has confirmed that patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, TNF-α, IL-1 β, the soluble IL-2 receptor, and C-reactive protein, compared to controls; however, there is limited information on IL-17A in MDD. Moreover, information about IL-17A in older populations, i.e., patients with late-life depression (LLD), is conspicuously missing from the literature. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of IL-17A in LLD.
A convenience sample of 129 individuals, 74 with LLD and 55 non-depressed controls, were enrolled in this study. The Mann-Whitney U
test was used to compare plasma IL-17A levels between LLD and controls subjects, and Spearman's rank order correlation was used to investigate correlation of these levels with clinical, neuropsychological, and cognitive assessments.
Plasma IL-17A levels were not statistically different between LLD patients and controls (p = 0.94). Among all subjects (LLD + control), plasma IL-17A did not correlate significantly with depressive symptoms (rho = -0.009, p = 0.92) but a significant correlation was observed with cognitive assessments (rho = 0.22, p = 0.01).
Our findings do not support an association between plasma IL-17A levels and LLD. Nevertheless, IL-17A may be associated with cognitive impairment in LLD patients. If this finding is confirmed in future longitudinal studies, modulation of the T-helper 17 cell (Th
17) immune response may be a treatment target for cognitive impairment in this population.
Keywords: Depression; cytokines; cognitive impairment; immunology