Back to Journals » Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment » Volume 13

Cytokines and depression in cancer patients and caregivers

Authors Li M, Kouzmina E, McCusker M, Rodin D, Boutros PC, Paige CJ, Rodin G

Received 24 June 2017

Accepted for publication 25 August 2017

Published 28 November 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 2903—2911


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Madeline Li,1,2 Ekaterina Kouzmina,3 Megan McCusker,1 Danielle Rodin,4 Paul C Boutros,3,5,6 Christopher J Paige,6–8 Gary Rodin1,2

1Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Department of Supportive Care, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 3Informatics & Biocomputing Program, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 4Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 5Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 6Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 7Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 8Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Objective: A better understanding of the biobehavioral mechanisms underlying depression in cancer is required to translate biomarker findings into clinical interventions. We tested for associations between cytokines and the somatic and psychological symptoms of depression in cancer patients and their healthy caregivers.
Patients and methods: The GRID Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (Ham-D) was administered to 61 cancer patients of mixed type and stage, 26 primary caregivers and 38 healthy controls. Concurrently, blood was drawn for multiplexed plasma assays of 15 cytokines. Multiple linear regression, adjusted for biobehavioral variables, identified cytokine associations with the psychological (Ham-Dep) and somatic (Ham-Som) subfactors of the Ham-D.
Results: The Ham-Dep scores of cancer patients were similar to their caregivers, but their Ham-Som scores were significantly higher (twofold, p=0.016). Ham-Som was positively associated with IL-1ra (coefficient: 1.27, p≤0.001) in cancer patients, and negatively associated with IL-2 (coefficient: -0.68, p=0.018) in caregivers. Ham-Dep was negatively associated with IL-4 (coefficient: -0.67, p=0.004) in cancer patients and negatively associated with IL-17 (coefficient: -1.81, p=0.002) in caregivers.
Conclusion: The differential severity of somatic symptoms of depression in cancer patients and caregivers and the unique cytokine associations identified with each group suggests the potential for targeted interventions based on phenomenology and biology. The clinical implication is that depressive symptoms in cancer patients can arise from biological stressors, which is an important message to help destigmatize the development of depression in cancer patients.

Keywords: depression, psychological symptoms, somatic symptoms, cytokines, cancer, caregiver

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]