Association of the neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio and white blood cell count with response to pharmacotherapy in unipolar psychotic depression: An exploratory analysis

Cornelis F. Vos*, Tom K. Birkenhäger, Willem A. Nolen, Walter W. van den Broek, Marieke J.H. Coenen, Sophie E. ter Hark, Robbert Jan Verkes, Joost G.E. Janzing

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background: Low-grade inflammation occurs in a subgroup of patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and may be associated with response to antidepressant medications. The Neutrophil to Lymphocyte Ratio (NLR) and total White Blood cell Count (WBC) are markers of systemic inflammation which have not been investigated as predictors for outcome to pharmacotherapy in unipolar depression yet. Moreover, the association between inflammation and treatment response has not been studied in unipolar Psychotic Depression (PD). We conducted an exploratory analysis to examine the prognostic significance of NLR and WBC in pharmacotherapy of PD. Methods: Baseline NLR and WBC were examined in their association with response to seven weeks of treatment with antidepressants (venlafaxine or imipramine) and the combination of an antidepressant with an antipsychotic (venlafaxine plus quetiapine) in 87 patients with PD. Logistic regression models were adjusted for age, gender, Body Mass Index (BMI), depression severity, duration of the current episode and number of previous depressive episodes. Secondary outcomes were remission of depression and disappearance of psychotic symptoms. Results: Higher NLR was associated with increased response to pharmacotherapy (Exp(B) 1.66, 95 ​% CI 1.03–2.66, p ​= ​0.036), but not with remission of depression or disappearance of psychotic symptoms. WBC was not associated with any of the outcome measures. Conclusion: NLR may be a novel, inexpensive and widely available biomarker associated with response to pharmacotherapy in PD. The association between white blood cell measures and treatment outcome should be further investigated for different types of antidepressants in PD and in non-psychotic MDD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100319
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
Volume16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

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