Bränn E, Skalkidou A, Schwarz J, Papadopoulos FC, Sundström Poromaa I, Fransson E
Brain Behav Immun Health 22 (-) 100468 [2022-07-00; online 2022-05-02]
Mechanisms driving temporal fluctuations of inflammatory markers during pregnancy, and how these might differ between distinct perinatal depressive trajectories, are not well understood. The aim of this study was to investigate cytokines levels over the course of pregnancy in women with different trajectories of depressive symptoms peripartum, and relate the levels to levels of non-pregnant controls. Based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and/or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors use, 131 women were categorized into: no (n = 65); antepartum (APD, n = 19), postpartum (PPD, n = 17) and persistent (n = 30) depressive symptoms. Plasma samples (n = 386) were analyzed for levels of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-18, Tumor necrosis factor-α, macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and fractalkine, at four different time-points (twice during pregnancy, during childbirth, and postpartum) using Bio-Plex Pro Human Cytokine Assays. Generalized linear mixed models were applied to analyze the associations between cytokine levels, time-point, perinatal depressive symptom trajectory group and their interaction. For all markers but VEGF-A, pregnancy was associated with higher cytokine levels compared to the non-pregnant controls, with delivery being the most prominent time-point. For M-CSF, IL-18 and VEGF-A, levels were back to the non-pregnant status at postpartum week 8. An effect of perinatal depressive symptom trajectory groups on cytokine levels was found for VEGF-A. Women with PPD and women with APD had lower levels of VEGF-A throughout the study period compared to women with persistent depression, and women with PPD had lower levels compared to non-depressed women. Lower levels of VEGF-A were noted among women in some trajectories of depressive symptoms peripartum. The peripartum period is a time of tremendous immune system adaptations. Standardization of time-points for cytokine measurements in studies of perinatal depression are important in order to draw valid conclusions on the role of the immune system in perinatal depression.