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There is substantial evidence that many depressed individuals experience impaired executive functioning. Understanding the causes of executive dysfunction in depression is clinically important because cognitive impairment is a substantial contributor to functional impairment. This study investigated whether elevated levels of an inflammatory cytokine [interleukin-6 (IL-6)] and/or higher body mass index (BMI) concurrently and/or prospectively accounted for the relationship between depressive symptoms and impaired executive functioning in adolescents.
A diverse, community sample of adolescents (N = 288; mean age = 16.33; 51.4% female; 59.0% African-American) completed assessments of height and weight, IL-6, depressive symptoms, and self-report/behavioral measures of executive functioning (selective attention, switching attention) and future orientation annually over 3 years. Adolescents experiencing acute illness or medical conditions that affect inflammation were excluded from analyses. Path analysis within a structural equation modeling framework simultaneously examined the concurrent and prospective relationships between BMI, IL-6, depressive symptoms, and the measures of cognitive functioning across three timepoints.
Across all timepoints, higher BMI was prospectively associated with higher levels of IL-6 and depressive symptoms, while higher levels of IL-6 were associated with worse performance on three behavioral and self-report measures of cognitive functioning. Higher depressive symptoms also were prospectively associated with elevated IL-6 and both higher depressive symptoms and a higher BMI predicted worse future executive functioning via increased IL-6.
More severe depressive symptoms and increased BMI may disrupt executive functioning via elevated IL-6.
Suicide is a devastating public health problem and very few biological treatments have been found to be effective for quickly reducing the intensity of suicidal ideation (SI). We have previously shown that a single dose of ketamine, a glutamate N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, is associated with a rapid reduction in depressive symptom severity and SI in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
We conducted a randomized, controlled trial of ketamine in patients with mood and anxiety spectrum disorders who presented with clinically significant SI (n = 24). Patients received a single infusion of ketamine or midazolam (as an active placebo) in addition to standard of care. SI measured using the Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSI) 24 h post-treatment represented the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale – Suicidal Ideation (MADRS-SI) score at 24 h and additional measures beyond the 24-h time-point.
The intervention was well tolerated and no dropouts occurred during the primary 7-day assessment period. BSI score was not different between the treatment groups at 24 h (p = 0.32); however, a significant difference emerged at 48 h (p = 0.047). MADRS-SI score was lower in the ketamine group compared to midazolam group at 24 h (p = 0.05). The treatment effect was no longer significant at the end of the 7-day assessment period.
The current findings provide initial support for the safety and tolerability of ketamine as an intervention for SI in patients who are at elevated risk for suicidal behavior. Larger, well-powered studies are warranted.
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