Expression of inflammatory markers in women with perinatal depressive symptoms

  • R Buglione-Corbett
  • KM Deligiannidis
  • K Leung
  • N Zhang
  • M Lee
  • MC Rosal
  • TA Moore Simas
Original Article


Perinatal depression affects 10–20% of women and is associated with poor outcomes for mother and child. Inflammation is associated with depression in non-pregnant adults. Perinatal depression and inflammation in pregnancy are independently associated with morbidities including obesity, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. The role of inflammation in perinatal depression has received little attention. We hypothesized an association between self-reported perinatal depressive symptoms and serum inflammatory biomarkers TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, and CRP. 110 healthy gravidas were recruited in third trimester from an academic medical center, with a baseline study visit at a mean of 32.5 (SD ± 1.8) weeks gestational age. Sixty-three participants completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and provided demographic information and serum samples upon enrollment and at 3 and 6 months postpartum. Serum inflammatory markers were quantified by multiplex array. Multiple linear mixed effects models were used to evaluate trends of biomarkers with the EPDS score in the third trimester of pregnancy and the postpartum period. Elevated serum TNF-α was associated with lower EPDS total score (β = − 0.90, p = 0.046) after adjusting for demographics and medication use. In contrast, IL-6, CRP, and IL-1β did not demonstrate statistically significant associations with depressive symptoms by the EPDS in either crude or adjusted models. Study findings showed no association or an inverse (TNF-α) association between inflammatory markers and perinatal depressive symptoms. Relevant literature evaluating a role for inflammation in depression in the unique context of pregnancy is both limited and inconsistent, and further exploration is merited.


Inflammation Perinatal depression TNF-α 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number UL1TR000161. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. Dr. Rosal also received funding from NIH/NIMHD (grant # 1 P60 MD006912-02) and the CDC (grant # U48 DP001933). Dr. Moore Simas also received funding from the CDC (1U01DP006093). Dr. Deligiannidis receives funding from NIH 5K23MH097794 and NIH L30 MH104713.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

737_2018_834_MOESM1_ESM.docx (803 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 803 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School/UMass Memorial Health CareWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Division of Preventative and Behavioral MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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