Serotonin and interleukin-6: The role of genetic polymorphisms in IFN-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms

Marc Udina, José Moreno-España, Ricard Navinés, Dolors Giménez, Klaus Langohr, Mònica Gratacòs, Lucile Capuron, Rafael de la Torre, Ricard Solà, Rocío Martín-Santos

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cytokines and serotonin neurotransmission may play an important role on the development of psychopathological symptoms during interferon (IFN) treatment. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between IFN-induced depression, anxiety and fatigue and functional genetic variants at the interleukin-6 gene ( IL-6) and serotonin transporter gene ( SERT). Methods: 385 consecutive Caucasian outpatients with chronic hepatitis C initiating treatment with IFN-alpha and ribavirin were included. All patients were interviewed at baseline using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-I) and those with a current major depressive disorder or anxiety disorder before starting treatment were excluded. Depression and anxiety were assessed at baseline during the treatment (at 4, 12, 24 and 48 weeks) using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and fatigue was evaluated using a visual analogue scale. The 5-HTTLPR region of SERT gene and the functional polymorphism located at the promoter region of IL-6 gene (rs1800795) were genotyped. Results: Genotypic distribution was in the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium for SERT ( p = 0.41) and for IL-6 ( p = 0.72) polymorphisms. At baseline we found only a significant effect of IL-6 polymorphism on fatigue symptoms. During antiviral treatment we reported that subjects with CC genotype ( IL-6) presented significantly lower changes from baseline in IFN-induced depression ( p = 0.005) and IFN-induced anxiety ( p = 0.004). We did not find statistically significant differences on depression ( p = 0.21) or anxiety ( p = 0.15) between SS/SL and LL genotypes of SERT. Conclusions: Genetic variations in the IL-6 gene increase the risk of IFN-induced depression and anxiety. The IL-6 polymorphism was associated with fatigue rates in patients with chronic hepatitis C before treatment. Our study confirms the role of inflammatory mechanisms in IFN-induced psychopathological symptoms. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1803-1813
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013


  • 5-HTTLPR
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Genetic
  • Hepatitis C
  • IL-6
  • Interferon alpha
  • Rs1800795
  • SERT


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