The effect of mood-stabilizing drugs on cytokine levels in bipolar disorder : a systematic review
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Journal of affective disorders. - Amsterdam
, p. 364-373
University of Antwerp
Objectives Cytokine level alterations suggest a role for the immune system in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD). Pharmacotherapy is an important confounding factor in clinical research on cytokine levels. In this systematic review we collate the evidence on blood cytokine levels in medication-free BD and the effects of single mood-stabilizing drugs on these levels. Methods A systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA statement. We searched the Pubmed and Embase databases for clinical studies reporting either on cytokine levels in medication-free BD or on the effects of single mood-stabilizing drugs on cytokine levels in BD. Results Of the 564 articles screened, 17 were included. Fourteen articles report on medication-free patients with BD and indicate state-related cytokine alterations. Six articles discuss the effect of lithium. Whereas no data on short-term effects of lithium were found, ≥2 months lithium use in euthymic populations is associated with normal cytokine levels. Two studies report no effect of valproate and no studies were found on carbamazepine, lamotrigine or antipsychotics. Limitations The available studies are characterized by a broad methodological heterogeneity and limited replication between studies. Conclusions This systematic review suggests the presence of state-related cytokine level alterations in medication-free BD with most evidence pointing to a proinflammatory cytokine response in mania. Euthymia and long-term lithium use are associated with normal cytokine levels. To improve our understanding of the impact of mood-stabilizing drugs on cytokine levels, longitudinal studies with medication-free baseline, randomized controlled single-drug treatment protocols and close mood state monitoring are needed.