Home Mental Health & Well-Being Major Depression May Increase Sepsis Risk, New Study Finds

Major Depression May Increase Sepsis Risk, New Study Finds

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry has revealed a suggestive association between major depression and an increased risk of sepsis. This research, conducted through Mendelian randomisation, highlights the potential need for clinicians to be vigilant about sepsis in patients with major depression.

The study aimed to determine whether severe mental illnesses (SMIs) such as major depression and schizophrenia causally increase the risk of sepsis and sepsis mortality. Using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data, the researchers identified genetic variants associated with major depression and schizophrenia and evaluated their potential links to sepsis.

The results suggest that individuals with genetically predicted major depression have a higher risk of developing sepsis. But no significant association was found between schizophrenia and sepsis risk, nor between either SMI or sepsis mortality.

Mendelian randomization is a method that uses genetic variants as instruments to determine causal relationships between risk factors and outcomes, minimising confounding biases inherent in observational studies. The study utilised GWAS data for major depression, schizophrenia, sepsis, and sepsis mortality from large populations of European ancestry to ensure robust results.

The researchers employed several Mendelian randomization techniques, including the inverse-variance weighted (IVW) method, which served as the primary analysis tool. To make sure the results were accurate, sensitivity analyses like Cochrane’s Q test and the MR-Egger intercept test were used to look for heterogeneity and pleiotropy.

In the analysis of major depression and sepsis, 108 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with major depression were examined. The IVW method revealed a suggestive causal relationship between major depression and sepsis. Conversely, the analysis of 260 SNPs related to schizophrenia showed no significant association with sepsis risk. Furthermore, no significant causal links were found between either major depression or schizophrenia and sepsis mortality.

The findings underscore the importance of monitoring patients with major depression for signs of infection, including sepsis. This proactive approach could potentially reduce the incidence and improve the management of sepsis among depressive patients.

The study’s results align with previous observational studies that have reported an increased risk of infections, including sepsis, among individuals with major depression. For instance, a Danish nationwide cohort study found that patients with depression had more than double the risk of sepsis compared to the general population.

The study also delves into the possible biological mechanisms underlying the link between major depression and sepsis. It is well-documented that depression can alter immune function, leading to increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP). These inflammatory markers may increase the risk of sepsis, an infection-related condition with a dysregulated immune response.

Moreover, the immune changes in depression, including increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and alterations in T cell responses, share similarities with the immune dysregulation seen in sepsis. This overlap might explain the increased susceptibility to sepsis in individuals with depression.

Despite the robust methodology, the study acknowledges several limitations. The findings are based on individuals of European ancestry, which limits their generalisability to other populations. Additionally, the power of the MR analysis for major depression and sepsis was slightly below the optimal threshold, suggesting that larger studies might be needed for more definitive conclusions.

Further research is also warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms in more detail and to investigate potential preventive strategies for sepsis in patients with major depression. Future studies should include diverse populations to validate the findings across different genetic backgrounds.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd