Expression of inflammatory markers in women with perinatal depressive symptoms

UMMS Affiliation

UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Department of Psychiatry; Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology/Diabetes; Department of Medicine, Division of Preventative and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Community Health | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Maternal and Child Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Preventive Medicine | Women's Health


Perinatal depression affects 10-20% of women and is associated with poor outcomes for mother and child. Inflammation is associated with depression in non-pregnant adults. Perinatal depression and inflammation in pregnancy are independently associated with morbidities including obesity, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. The role of inflammation in perinatal depression has received little attention. We hypothesized an association between self-reported perinatal depressive symptoms and serum inflammatory biomarkers TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-1beta, and CRP. 110 healthy gravidas were recruited in third trimester from an academic medical center, with a baseline study visit at a mean of 32.5 (SD +/- 1.8) weeks gestational age. Sixty-three participants completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and provided demographic information and serum samples upon enrollment and at 3 and 6 months postpartum. Serum inflammatory markers were quantified by multiplex array. Multiple linear mixed effects models were used to evaluate trends of biomarkers with the EPDS score in the third trimester of pregnancy and the postpartum period. Elevated serum TNF-alpha was associated with lower EPDS total score (beta = - 0.90, p = 0.046) after adjusting for demographics and medication use. In contrast, IL-6, CRP, and IL-1beta did not demonstrate statistically significant associations with depressive symptoms by the EPDS in either crude or adjusted models. Study findings showed no association or an inverse (TNF-alpha) association between inflammatory markers and perinatal depressive symptoms. Relevant literature evaluating a role for inflammation in depression in the unique context of pregnancy is both limited and inconsistent, and further exploration is merited.


Inflammation, Perinatal depression, TNF-α

DOI of Published Version



Arch Womens Ment Health. 2018 Mar 30. doi: 10.1007/s00737-018-0834-1. [Epub ahead of print]. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Archives of women's mental health

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID