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Childhood inflammatory markers and intelligence as predictors of subsequent persistent depressive symptoms: a longitudinal cohort study

  • G. M. Khandaker (a1) (a2), J. Stochl (a1) (a3), S. Zammit (a4) (a5), I. Goodyer (a1) (a2), G. Lewis (a6) and P. B. Jones (a1) (a2)...
Abstract
Background

To identify developmental sub-groups of depressive symptoms during the second decade of life, a critical period of brain development, using data from a prospective birth cohort. To test whether childhood intelligence and inflammatory markers are associated with subsequent persistent depressive symptoms.

Methods

IQ, a proxy for neurodevelopment, was measured at age 8 years. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein, typical inflammatory markers, were measured at age 9 years. Depressive symptoms were measured six times between 10 and 19 years using the short mood and feelings questionnaire (SMFQ), which were coded as binary variable and then used in latent class analysis to identify developmental sub-groups of depressive symptoms.

Results

Longitudinal SMFQ data from 9156 participants yielded three distinct population sub-groups of depressive symptoms: no symptoms (81.2%); adolescent-onset symptoms (13.2%); persistent symptoms (5.6%). Lower IQ and higher IL-6 levels in childhood were independently associated with subsequent persistent depressive symptoms in a linear, dose–response fashion, but not with adolescent-onset symptoms. Compared with the group with no symptoms the adjusted odds ratio for persistent depressive symptoms per s.d. increase in IQ was 0.80 (95% CI, 0.68–0.95); that for IL-6 was 1.20 (95% CI, 1.03–1.39). Evidence for an association with IL-6 remained after controlling for initial severity of depressive symptoms at 10 years. There was no evidence that IL-6 moderated or mediated the IQ-persistent depressive symptom relationship.

Conclusions

The results indicate potentially important roles for two distinct biological processes, neurodevelopment and inflammation, in the aetiology of persistent depressive symptoms in young people.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Dr G. M. Khandaker, E-mail: gmk24@medschl.cam.ac.uk
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