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BMC Psychiatry

, 13:40 | Cite as

Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with an enhanced spontaneous production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by peripheral blood mononuclear cells

  • Hannah Gola
  • Harald Engler
  • Annette Sommershof
  • Hannah Adenauer
  • Stephan Kolassa
  • Manfred Schedlowski
  • Marcus Groettrup
  • Thomas Elbert
  • Iris-Tatjana KolassaEmail author
Research article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Stress and anxiety

Abstract

Background

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with an enhanced risk for cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases. Chronic low-level inflammation has been suggested as a potential mechanism linking these conditions.

Methods

We investigated plasma cytokine levels as well as spontaneous and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in a group of 35 severely traumatized PTSD patients compared to 25 healthy controls.

Results

Spontaneous production of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α by isolated PBMCs was significantly higher in the PTSD compared to the control group and even correlated with PTSD symptom severity within the PTSD group. In contrast, circulating plasma levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α, or monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 were not significantly altered in PTSD patients compared to healthy controls.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that PBMCs of PTSD patients are already pre-activated in vivo, providing further evidence for low-grade inflammation in PTSD. This might possibly represent one psychobiological pathway from PTSD to poor physical health.

Keywords

Posttraumatic stress disorder Immune system Cytokines Pro-inflammatory cytokines Traumatic stress Inflammation 

Abbreviations

BDL

Below detection limit

CAPS

Clinician Administered PTSD Scale

CRP

C-reactive protein

HAM-D

Hamilton Depression Rating Scale

IL

Interleukin

LPS

Lipopolysaccharide

MCP

Monocyte chemotactic protein

M.I.N.I

Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview

PBMCs

Peripheral blood mononuclear cells

PHA

Phytohemagglutinin

PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder

SOMS-7

Screening for Somatoform Symptoms-7

TNF

Tumor necrosis factor

WBC

White blood cell.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. Claudia Catani, Dr. Maggie Schauer, Dr. Martina Ruf and Prof. Dr. Frank Neuner for clinical supervision and treatment of patients as well as Heike Riedke and Christiane Wolf for technical assistance. This research was conducted at the University of Konstanz. Hannah Gola and Iris-Tatjana Kolassa are now at the University of Ulm.

This study was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) FOR751 and the European Refugee Fund. The DFG and the European Refugee Fund had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Supplementary material

12888_2012_1216_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (62 kb)
Authors’ original file for figure 1

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Pre-publication history

  1. The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/13/40/prepub

Copyright information

© Gola et al.; lincensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah Gola
    • 1
    • 5
  • Harald Engler
    • 2
  • Annette Sommershof
    • 3
  • Hannah Adenauer
    • 1
  • Stephan Kolassa
    • 4
  • Manfred Schedlowski
    • 2
  • Marcus Groettrup
    • 3
  • Thomas Elbert
    • 1
  • Iris-Tatjana Kolassa
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Clinical Psychology & NeuropsychologyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology, University Hospital EssenUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  3. 3.Division of ImmunologyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  4. 4.Research & Innovation, Center of Excellence Forecasting & ReplenishmentTägerwilenSwitzerland
  5. 5.Clinical & Biological Psychology, Institute of Psychology & EducationUniversity of UlmUlmGermany

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