Anti-cytokine medicines may have a role to play in managing depression, a new study suggests.
The study, Antidepressant activity of anti-cytokine treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of chronic inflammatory conditions, drew data from 20 clinical trials in which anti-cytokines – such as etanercept and infliximab – were used to treat autoimmune disease and where symptoms of depression were also examined as a secondary outcome.
“Findings from this large systematic review of 20 studies including meta-analyses of 16 studies totalling 5063 participants indicate that anti-cytokine treatment improves depressive symptoms.
“We observed significant results favouring cytokine modulators over respective control groups.”
“The results are in line with a previous meta-analysis of NSAIDs, which included three RCTs of cytokine inhibitors.
“The results are also consistent with a recent meta-analysis of anti-TNF treatment in people with chronic physical illness that reported improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms.
“However, based on a meta-analysis of seven RCTs the current study provides a robust, statistically significant effect estimate favouring anti-cytokine treatment for depression.”
The results suggest inflammatory cytokines may have a key role in the pathogenesis of depression, and that anti-cytokine medicines may be effective for patients with depression – particularly treatment-resistant cases characterised by increased inflammation.
“The field now needs RCTs of anti-cytokine treatment using such patients, which would pave the way for novel, effective and personalised treatment for depression and could reduce the burden presented by such a serious and multifactorial illness.”