What is it about?

The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible connection between interleukin-6, the acute phase (relapse) of multiple sclerosis (MS), and depression. The authors determined and statistically evaluated the levels of interleukin-6 and its soluble receptor in the serum of 28 MS patients in relapsing, 14 MS patients in remission, and 20 control subjects, as well as the presence of depression among these individuals. The results of our study indicate that depression is not only very common during relapses of MS, but also that the levels of IL-6 increase during the acute phase of the disease, especially when depression is detected.

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Why is it important?

The fact that IL-6 and sIL-6R levels were not increased in the depressed control subjects may indirectly support the idea of emotional reaction as the cause of depression. This finding is in contrast with reports that depression is related to elevated levels of cytokines in normal individuals


Our results indicate that the diagnosis of depression in MS patients, particularly during the acute phase of the disease, is critical before initiation of anti-inflammatory or immune-therapy. The treatment of depression may provide a novel disease-modifying strategy, and therapy with corticosteroids may affect the long-term prognosis of both depression and MS.

Professor Stavros J Baloyannis or Balogiannis or Balojannis or Baloyiannis or Mpalogiannis
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

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This page is a summary of: Increase in Interleukin-6 Levels Is Related to Depressive Phenomena in the Acute (Relapsing) Phase of Multiple Sclerosis, Journal of Neuropsychiatry, September 2011, American Psychiatric Association,
DOI: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.23.4.442.
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