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Association between C reactive protein and depression in a population of healthy adults: the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study
  1. Amber Khan1,
  2. David Leonard2,
  3. Laura Defina2,
  4. Carolyn E Barlow2,
  5. Benjamin Willis2,
  6. E Sherwood Brown1
  1. 1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA
  2. 2 Research, The Cooper Institute, Dallas, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr E Sherwood Brown, Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX 75034, USA; Sherwood.Brown{at}


The relationship between depression and inflammation is currently a topic of much interest. Previous studies have produced mixed results regarding the association between depression and high-sensitivity C reactive protein (hs-CRP). The aim of this report was to determine the association between hs-CRP and depression in a large sample of healthy adults. This is a cross-sectional study of 26,638 healthy adults seen for preventive medical examinations between December 2000 and August 2018 at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Multivariable logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between hs-CRP levels and depressive symptoms as measured by the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Covariates included race, age, education, smoking history, alcohol use, menopausal status, body mass index (BMI), and medication use. The Hs-CRP level demonstrated a weakly positive association with depressive symptoms (OR 1.06 per mg/L, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.09 for women; OR 1.05 per mg/L, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.09 for men) that became insignificant when controlling for BMI in women (OR 1.02 per mg/L, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.05) and men (OR 1.02 per mg/L, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.05). Adjusting for antidepressant and statin use did not affect the association between hs-CRP and depressive symptoms in women (OR 0.99 per mg/L, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.03) or men (OR 1.01 per mg/L, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.05). Levels of hs-CRP were not associated with depression independent of BMI in a predominantly white, male population of higher socioeconomic status. This finding suggests that associations between hs-CRP and depression may be explained by obesity, which warrants further investigation into shared pathways between obesity and depression.

  • C-reactive protein
  • depression
  • inflammation
  • body mass index
  • obesity

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  • Contributors ESB contributed to the design of the study and edited the manuscript. AK contributed to the design and wrote much of the manuscript. DL analyzed the data. LD, BW and CEB were involved in data collection and design, and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests ESB has grants from NIH, the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Otsuka.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The subjects gave written informed consent for their data to be used for research purposes. The study protocol was reviewed and approved annually by the Institutional Review Board of The Cooper Institute.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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