Pre-treatment waking cortisol response and vulnerability to interferon alpha induced depression

Jessica Eccles, Camille Lallemant, Farrah Mushtaq, Matthew Greenwood, Majella Keller, Bruno Golding, Jeremy Tibble, Inam Haq, Richard Whale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Depressive disorder is a common consequence of interferon a treatment. An understanding of the aetiological processes involved is evolving. HPA axis abnormalities are clearly described in community depressive disorder and represent vulnerability to depression development. We explored whether pre-treatment HPA axis abnormalities influence depression emergence during interferon a treatment. We examined waking HPA axis response via salivary cortisol sampling in 44 non-depressed, chronic hepatitis C infected patients due to commence standard interferon a treatment. Hamilton depression scales and the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV major depressive disorder status were administered monthly during treatment. Major depressive disorder developed in 26 of 44 subjects during interferon-a treatment. The pre-treatment waking cortisol response over 1 h was significantly greater in the subsequent switch to depression group (F=4.23, p=0.046). The waking cortisol response pre-treatment with interferon a appears greater in those subsequently switching to depressive disorder during treatment. This waking response may join other vulnerability factors for depression emergence in this group. This model could prove a valuable tool in understanding non-iatrogenic depressive disorder in the general population and notably the role of cytokines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)892-896
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2012


  • Depression
  • Aetiology
  • HPA axis
  • Interferon
  • Cytokines
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Serotonin


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