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Increased plasma complement factor H is associated with geriatric depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 May 2018

Cheolmin Shin
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Byung-Joo Ham
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Young-Hoon Ko
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Chi-Un Pae
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Moon Ho Park
Department of Neurology, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
David C. Steffens
Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, USA
Ashwin A. Patkar
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA
Changsu Han*
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Correspondence should be addressed to: Changsu Han, MD, PhD, MHS, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Ansan Hospital, 123, Jeokgeum-ro, Danwon-gu, Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do 15355 Seoul, Republic of Korea. Phone: +82-31-4125140; Fax: +82-31-4125144. Email:



Complement factor H (CFH) plays a key role in regulating the cascade of the alternative pathway of the complement system. Dysregulation of CFH may be involved in the pathophysiology of various inflammation-mediated diseases including neuropsychiatric illnesses. This study aimed to investigate this relationship by examining determining CFH levels in elderly individuals with and without depression.


A total of 152 elderly individuals (major depressive disorder (MDD) group, n = 76; comparison sample, n = 76) were selected from the Ansan Geriatric study. The plasma level of CFH was measured. MDD was diagnosed with the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview as per DSM-IV criteria. The severity of depression was evaluated with the geriatric depression scale (GDS). Mean CFH levels were compared using the Mann–Whitney U test. After adjusting for possible confounding factors including age, sex, marital status, education, alcohol use, hemoglobin levels, and the Korean version of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE-KC), a multiple regression analysis was conducted. The GDS score and plasma level of CFH were analyzed using Spearman's correlation.


Plasma CFH level was significantly higher in individuals with MDD than in the comparison sample (289.51 ± 21.16 vs. 339.67 ± 66.23, p < 0.001). In a regression model adjusted for possible confounders, CFH was significantly associated with geriatric depression (p < 0.001). CFH levels were not significantly related to GDS scores in the depressed group.


This study revealed an association between high plasma levels of CFH and geriatric depression, thereby suggesting the alternative pathway of the complement system contributing to the development of geriatric depression.

Original Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2018 

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