Depression changes the properties of immune cells

(ORDO NEWS) — Using an artificial intelligence algorithm, German scientists compared various characteristics of the blood cells of depressed patients and healthy people. It turned out that depressive disorders increase the deformability of cells, especially in the cells of innate immunity.

Symptoms of depressive disorders are not limited to depression, lack of interest, increased fatigue and other mental disorders. Often they are accompanied by mild inflammation or increased release of glucocorticoids

Studying the physiological manifestations of depression, scientists from the Dresden University of Technology, the University of Zurich (Switzerland) and the Institutes of the Max Planck Society (Germany) for the first time established a link between this disorder and the changes that occur in blood cells.

The study involved 69 patients with depressive disorders and 70 healthy people. The scientists evaluated the morphological and rheological (associated with deformation and fluidity) characteristics of the participants’ blood samples.

They obtained over 16 million images of blood cells using real-time deformable cytometry. This technology allows you to study the properties of individual cells in a sample.

The researchers then used an artificial intelligence algorithm to separate the cells into basic types, as well as evaluate various parameters such as size and deformability.

The blood cells of patients with depressive disorders were found to be more deformable than those of healthy participants. That is, they easily changed their shape under the influence of external forces. Cell size did not differ between groups.

In people who had suffered a depressive disorder during their lives, increased deformability was characteristic of innate immune cells – monocytes and neutrophils – while lymphocytes and erythrocytes were more susceptible to deformity in patients who were depressed at the time of the study.

Thus, in addition to other physiological changes, depression is accompanied by an increased deformability of blood cells, especially immune cells. It is likely that these mechanical changes can affect cell function and cause an immune response leading to the development of chronic inflammation.

Determination of this mechanism will allow the creation of new therapies that can restore the functions of deformed cells. According to the authors of the study, in order to create more effective treatments for depressive disorder, it is necessary to combine both psychological and physiological approaches.

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