Depression and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Anti-inflammatory drugs may be more effective in treating difficult cases of depression than the conventional methods of therapy and anti-depressants, according to a new study.
The research, conducted at the Emory University School of Medicine, used infliximab, a new drug designed to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.
In previous studies, researchers found that people with difficult-to-treat depression had high levels of inflammation. The Emory study shows that anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to treat that level of depression.
“When prolonged or excessive, inflammation can damage many parts of the body, including the brain,” senior study author Andrew H. Miller, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said in a statement. Depression has been linked to an imbalance in brain chemistry.
The study examined patients who were moderately resistant to conventional depression treatment, dividing them into groups who got infliximab and those who got a placebo. The patients who had high inflammation were much more responsive to infliximab than were those who were given the placebo.
The patients’ inflammation was measured via a simple blood test that’s already available. It measures C-reactive protein (CRP). The higher the level of CRP, the higher the level of inflammation. That high level, researchers said, means the patient will respond better to the drug.
Lead author Charles Raison, formerly at Emory and now a professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona, said the discovery means that other psychiatric diseases may respond to similar anti-inflammatory treatments.
"The study opens the door to a host of new approaches,” he said in a statement.
The findings were published in the “Archives of General Psychiatry.”