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Research implicates inflammation in the vicious cycle between depression and obesity, yet few longitudinal studies exist. The rapid weight loss induced by bariatric surgery is known to improve depressive symptoms dramatically, but preoperative depression diagnosis may also increase the risk for poor weight loss. Therefore, we investigated longitudinal associations between depression and inflammatory markers and their effect on weight loss and clinical outcomes in bariatric patients.
This longitudinal observational study of 85 patients with obesity undergoing bariatric surgery included 41 cases with depression and 44 controls. Before and 6 months after surgery, we assessed depression by clinical interview and measured serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10.
Before surgery, depression diagnosis was associated with significantly higher serum hsCRP, IL-6, and IL-6/10 ratio levels after controlling for confounders. Six months after surgery, patients with pre-existing depression still had significantly higher inflammation despite demonstrating similar weight loss to controls. Hierarchical regression showed higher baseline hsCRP levels predicted poorer weight loss (β = −0.28, p = 0.01) but had no effect on depression severity at follow-up (β = −0.02, p = 0.9). Instead, more severe baseline depressive symptoms and childhood emotional abuse predicted greater depression severity after surgery (β = 0.81, p < 0.001; and β = 0.31, p = 0.001, respectively).
Depression was significantly associated with higher inflammation beyond the effect of obesity and other confounders. Higher inflammation at baseline predicted poorer weight loss 6 months after surgery, regardless of depression diagnosis. Increased inflammation, rather than depression, may drive poor weight loss outcomes among bariatric patients.
Depression and overweight are each associated with abnormal immune system activation. We sought to disentangle the extent to which depressive symptoms and overweight status contributed to increased inflammation and abnormal cortisol levels.
Participants were recruited through the Wellcome Trust NIMA Consortium. The sample of 216 participants consisted of 69 overweight patients with depression; 35 overweight controls; 55 normal-weight patients with depression and 57 normal-weight controls. Peripheral inflammation was measured as high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) in serum. Salivary cortisol was collected at multiple points throughout the day to measure cortisol awakening response and diurnal cortisol levels.
Overweight patients with depression had significantly higher hsCRP compared with overweight controls (p = 0.042), normal-weight depressed patients (p < 0.001) and normal-weight controls (p < 0.001), after controlling for age and gender. Multivariable logistic regression showed that comorbid depression and overweight significantly increased the risk of clinically elevated hsCRP levels ⩾3 mg/L (OR 2.44, 1.28–3.94). In a separate multivariable logistic regression model, overweight status contributed most to the risk of having hsCRP levels ⩾3 mg/L (OR 1.52, 0.7–2.41), while depression also contributed a significant risk (OR 1.09, 0.27–2). There were no significant differences between groups in cortisol awakening response and diurnal cortisol levels.
Comorbid depression and overweight status are associated with increased hsCRP, and the coexistence of these conditions amplified the risk of clinically elevated hsCRP levels. Overweight status contributed most to the risk of clinically elevated hsCRP levels, but depression also contributed to a significant risk. We observed no differences in cortisol levels between groups.
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