J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc.  1997 May;36(3):466-474.

Severity of Stressful Life Events, Depression and Immune Function

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea.


Stress and depression have been known to be associated with impairment in immune function. This study was designed to elucidate the abnormalities of humoral immune function in patients with depressive illness. METHOD: The author compared seam immunoglobulin IgG, IgA, IgM, and complements C3, C4, checked with rate Nephelometry, between hospitalized depressed patients and healthy normal controls. The depressive symptoms were rated with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the current life events were evaluated with the Social Readjustment Rating Scale.
1) Serum levels of immunoglobulin and complements of depressed patients as well as those of normal controls were generally within normal range. 2) The levels of the immunoglobulin IgM were found to be significantly increased in depressed patients compared to healthy normal controls. 3) The levels of complement C3, C4 tended to be slightly increased in depressed patients compared to healthy normal controls, but with no statistical significance. 4) Serum immunglobulin and complement levels were not significantly correlated with age, severity of depression and life events in depressed patients.
These findings expand previously reported evidence of immune abnormalities in depressive illness and provide a partial explanation for some of these findings and suggest that depressive illness is associated with an acute phase immune response. However, the seam immunoglobulin and complement levels were not correlated with the severity of depression and life events in depressive illness. So, it is difficult to consider the serum immunoglobulin and complement levels as specific markers of depressive illness. Further research on the interaction between hormones and immunity in depression is warranted.


Depression; Stressful life events; Immunonglobulin; Complement
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