Abnormal distribution and function of circulating monocytes and enhanced bacterial translocation in major depressive disorder
Introduction: Major depressive disorder (MDD) patients experience a systemic inflammatory stage. Monocytes play an important role in innate inflammatory responses and may be modulated by bacterial translocation. Our aim was to investigate the subset distribution and function of circulating monocytes, levels of proinflammatory cytokines, gut barrier damage, and bacterial translocation in MDD patients. Methods: Twenty-two MDD patients without concomitant diseases and 14 sex- and age-matched healthy controls were studied. The levels of circulating CD14(++)CD16(-) (classical), CD14(++)CD16(++) (intermediate) and CD14(-)CD16(++) (nonclassical) monocytes and the intracytoplasmic tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-10 expression in the presence or absence of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation were analyzed by polychromatic flow cytometry. The serum TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-10 levels were measured by Luminex. LPS-binding protein (LBP), intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP), and zonulin were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Results: MDD patients had a significant increase in the frequency of intermediate monocytes and a significant decrease in the frequency of classical monocytes compared to those in the healthy controls. MDD patients had a significantly increased percentage of classical monocytes that expressed IL-1 beta, intermediate monocytes that expressed IL-1 beta and IL6 and nonclassical monocytes that expressed IL-1 beta, and decreased levels of nonclassical monocytes that expressed IL6 compared to those in the healthy controls. MDD patients had significantly increased levels of circulating TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, LBP, and I-FABP compared to those in the healthy controls. MDD patients with high LBP levels had a significant reduction in the number of circulating monocytes compared to that in the normal-LBP MDD patients, which can be mainly ascribed to a decrease in the number of intermediate and nonclassical monocytes. Conclusions: We have demonstrated that compared to the healthy controls, MDD patients show a marked alteration in circulating monocytes, with an expansion of the intermediate subset with increased frequency of IL-1 beta and IL-6 producing cells. These patients also exhibited a systemic proinflammatory state, which was characterized by the enhanced serum TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta levels compared to those in the healthy controls. Furthermore, MDD patients showed increased LBP and I-FABP levels compared to those in healthy controls, indicating increased bacterial translocation and gut barrier damage.