Prospective network analysis of proinflammatory proteins, lipid markers, and depression components in midlife community women

Nur Hani Zainal, Michelle G. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background Vulnerability theories propose that suboptimal levels of lipid markers and proinflammatory proteins predict future heightened depression. Scar models posit the reverse association. However, most studies that tested relationships between non-specific immune/endocrine markers and depression did not separate temporal inferences between people and within-person and how different immunometabolism markers related to unique depression symptoms. We thus used cross-lagged prospective network analyses (CLPN) to investigate this topic. Methods Community midlife women (n = 2224) completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale and provided biomarker samples across five time-points spanning 9 years. CLPN identified significant relations (edges) among components (nodes) of depression (depressed mood, somatic symptoms, interpersonal issues), lipid markers [insulin, fasting glucose, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL)], and proinflammatory proteins [C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen], within and across time-points. All models adjusted for age, estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone, and menopausal status. Results In within-person temporal networks, higher CRP and HDL predicted all three depression components (d = 0.131-2.112). Increased LDL preceded higher depressed mood and interpersonal issues (v. somatic symptoms) (d = 0.251-0.327). Elevated triglycerides predicted more somatic symptoms (v. depressed mood and interpersonal problems) (d = 0.131). More interpersonal problems forecasted elevated fibrinogen and LDL levels (d = 0.129-0.331), and stronger somatic symptoms preceded higher fibrinogen levels (d = 0.188). Conclusions Results supported both vulnerability and scar models. Long-term dysregulated immunometabolism systems, social disengagement, and related patterns are possible mechanistic accounts. Cognitive-behavioral therapies that optimize nutrition and physical activity may effectively target depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5267-5278
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 4 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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