Prenatal immunologic predictors of postpartum depressive symptoms: a prospective study for potential diagnostic markers

Daniela Krause*, Andrea Jobst, Franka Kirchberg, Susann Kieper, Kristin Härtl, Ralph Kästner, Aye-Mu Myint, Norbert Müller, Markus J Schwarz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Web of Science)


In postpartum depression (PPD), immunologic changes have been proposed to be involved in the disease pathology. The study evaluates the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune response over the course of late pregnancy and postpartum period and their association with the development of postpartum depressive symptoms. Furthermore, prenatal immunologic markers for a PPD were investigated. Hundred pregnant women were included. At 34th and 38th week of pregnancy as well as 2 days, 7 weeks and 6 months postpartum, immune parameters (neopterin, regulatory T cells, CXCR1, CCR2, MNP1 and CD11a) were measured by flow cytometry/ELISA, and the psychopathology was evaluated. We found that regulatory T cells were significantly increased prenatal (p=0.011) and postnatal (p=0.01) in mothers with postnatal depressive symptoms. The decrease in CXCR 1 after delivery was significantly higher in mother with postnatal depressive symptoms (p=0.032). Mothers with postnatal depressive symptoms showed already prenatal significantly elevated neopterin levels (p=0.049). Finally, regulatory T cells in pregnancy strongly predict postnatal depressive symptoms (p=0.004). The present study revealed that prenatal and postnatal immunologic parameters are associated with postpartum depressive symptoms in mothers. In addition, we found immune markers that could eventually be the base for a biomarker set that predicts postnatal depressive symptoms already during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-24
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cytokines
  • Depression, Postpartum
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neopterin
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

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