Depression profilers and immuno-metabolic dysregulation: Longitudinal results from the NESDA study

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BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is linked to higher cardio-metabolic comorbidity that may in part be due to the low-grade inflammation and poorer metabolic health observed in MDD. Heterogeneity of MDD is however large, and immune-inflammatory and metabolic dysregulation is present in only part of the MDD cases. We examined the associations of four depression dimensional profilers (atypical energy-related symptom dimension, melancholic symptom dimension, childhood trauma severity, and anxious distress symptom dimension) with immuno-metabolic outcomes, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.

METHODS: Three waves covering a 6-year follow-up (>7000 observations) of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) were used. Depression profilers were based on the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Childhood Trauma index. An inflammatory index (based on IL-6 and CRP), a metabolic syndrome index (based on the five metabolic syndrome components), and a combination of these two indices were constructed. Mixed models were used for cross-sectional and longitudinal models, controlling for covariates.

RESULTS: Of the four depression profilers, only the atypical, energy-related symptom dimension showed robust associations with higher scores on the inflammatory, metabolic syndrome and combined inflammatory-metabolic indexes cross-sectionally, as well as at follow-up. The melancholic symptom dimension was associated with lower scores on the metabolic syndrome index both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.

CONCLUSION: The atypical energy-related symptom dimension was linked to poorer immune-inflammatory and metabolic health, while the melancholic symptom dimension was linked to relatively better metabolic health. Persons with high atypical energy-related symptom burden, representing an immuno-metabolic depression, may be the most important group to target in prevention programs for cardiometabolic disease, and may benefit most from treatments targeting immuno-metabolic pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-183
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, behavior, and immunity
Early online date6 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Depression
  • Heterogeneity
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Profiling

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