A RCT of the Tumor Necrosis Factor Antagonist Infliximab for Treatment-Resistant Depression

Discussion in 'Other health news and research' started by Woolie, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

    Full title:
    A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Tumor Necrosis Factor Antagonist Infliximab for Treatment-Resistant Depression

    Authors: Raison et al
    Date: 2012
    link to article
    Five minute video explanation for dummies

    Not brand new research or anything, but kind of interesting - and relevant!

    These researchers took a group of people diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression and treated them with infliximab or placebo. Infliximab is a drug that blocks tumour necrosis factor, a pro-inflammatory cytokine.

    The study found no overall beenfit of treatment for the group as a whole. But for that subgroup of participants who had high(ish) C-reactive protein levels (indicating inflammation), treatment led to improvements on a self-report measure of depression.

    But don't go away thinking that (some) depression is caused by inflammation, nor the other way around. When you look closer at the results, it appears that a lot of the "responders" were probably not depressed according to the strict meaning of the term, but rather had impaired physical functioning more generally - most probably including fatigue. Most of the "improvement" on the depression measure was people reporting that they could do more work and other activities following the treatment.

    My conclusion:

    * Infliximab reduces overall markers of inflammation (include CRP and TNF)

    * People with high(ish) levels of inflammation benefit from infliximab

    * The only thing the article probably has to say about actual depression (the concept) is that our diagnostic criteria are most likely too broad, and many physically ill people get caught in the net.
    hinterland, Dolphin, Chezboo and 6 others like this.
  2. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

    PS Its kind of a big deal, because this study has created a whole industry of researchers claiming that when people feel sad, bad or stressed about the world they produce inflammation. You end up with really highly cited studies like this one:
    full article here

    Now here's the problem for us: inflammation is most probably a huge factor in MECFS. In the past, we might have hoped that studies demonstrating elevated inflammatory markers in CFS would have helped show this is a real disease. But now you can see, even inflammation is being psychologised of late. I predict that the psychosocial CFS researchers will make the transition to inflammation research quite seamlessly - and still be able to claim it can all be fixed with therapy!

    Sorry to put such a downer on everyone. But its worth knowing what researchers are really thinking when they talk about "inflammation" in MECFS.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017

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