Objective: Different biological mechanisms may underlie depression beginning in early life (early-onset) and depression beginning later in life (late-onset). Although the relation between inflammation and depression has been studied extensively, the distinct role of inflammation in early and late-onset depression in older patients has not been addressed before. In the cross-sectional part of this study, we explored differences in levels of circulating inflammatory markers and cytokine levels in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated whole blood between older subjects with a late-life onset depression (≥60 years) and older subjects with an early-onset depression (<60 years). Secondly, in a 2-year follow-up study, we examined if circulating and stimulated inflammatory markers influenced the change in Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS) scores, and if this relation was different for early- and late-onset depression. Methods: The study was part of the Netherlands Study of Depression in Older Persons (NESDO). We included 350 patients, all aged 60 and older, with a depressive episode in the previous 6 months: 119 with a late-onset depression and 231 with an early-onset depression. Blood samples were collected and CRP, IL-6, NGAL, GDF15, and, LPS plasma levels were determined and whole blood was LPS stimulated and cytokine levels IL-1β IL-6, TNFα IFNγ IL-10, and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) were determined. Results: After adjustment for demographics, health indicators, and medication use, increased plasma CRP levels were more strongly associated with late-onset depression than early-onset depression (OR [95% CI]: 1.43 [1.05–1.94]). In the longitudinal analyses, higher circulating IL-6 levels were associated with a significantly slower decline in IDS scores in the crude and the adjusted models (p ≤ 0.027). This relation was not different between late- and early-onset depression. Other circulating and stimulated inflammatory markers were not associated with late- and/or early-onset depression. Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that low-grade inflammation is more strongly associated with late-onset than early-onset depression in older adults, suggesting a distinct inflammatory etiology for late-onset depression. Cytokine production capacity did not distinguish between early- and late-onset depression.
- Old age