Psychological Medicine


Aberrant interleukin-2 receptor-mediated blastoformation of peripheral blood lymphocytes in a severe major depressive episode

S. KANBA a1c1, H. MANKI a1, F. SHINTANI a1, Y. OHNO a1, G. YAGI a1 and M. ASAI a1
a1 From the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Yamanashi Medical University, Yamanashi-ken and Department of Neuropsychiatry, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan


Background. We examined interleukin-2 (IL-2) related immune pathways in depression to elucidate mechanisms underlying various immunological disturbances associated with depression.

Methods. Subjects comprised 35 unmedicated patients with a major depressive episode without psychotic features and 36 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. The immune parameters examined included the numbers of B and T cells, IL-2 receptor-mediated blastoformation (IL-2R-mediated blastoformation), IL-2 production and expression of the IL-2 receptor α-subunit.

Results. The patients with a severe episode showed significantly lower IL-2R-mediated blastoformation than the controls. There was a statistically significant negative correlation between IL-2R-mediated blastoformation and the severity of depression at the time of entry.

Conclusion. The reduced IL-2R-mediated blastoformation may partly explain several previously reported abnormal immune functions associated with depression.

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Shigenobu Kanba, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Yamanashi Medical University, 1110 Shimo-kato, Tamaho-cho, Nakakoma-gun, Yamanashi-ken, 409–38, Japan.