Interleukin-18 signaling system links to agitation in severe mental disorders
Hjell, Gabriela; Szabo, Attila; Mørch-Johnsen, Lynn Egeland; Holst, Rene; Tesli, Natalia; Bell, Christina; Fischer-Vieler, Thomas; Werner, Maren Caroline Frogner; Lunding, Synve Hoffart; Ormerod, Monica Bettina E. Greenwood; Johansen, Ingrid Torp; Dieset, Ingrid; Djurovic, Srdjan; Melle, Ingrid; Ueland, Thor; Andreassen, Ole; Steen, Nils Eiel; Haukvik, Unn Kristin Hansen
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPsychoneuroendocrinology. 2022, 140, 105721. 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2022.105721
Objective Agitation is a challenging clinical feature in severe mental disorders, but its biological correlates are largely unknown. Inflammasome-related abnormalities have been linked to severe mental disorders and implicated in animal models of agitation. We investigated if levels of circulating inflammasome-related immune markers were associated with agitation in severe mental disorders. Methods Individuals with a psychotic or affective disorder (N = 660) underwent blood sampling and clinical characterization. Plasma levels of interleukin (IL)‐18, IL-18 binding protein (IL-18BP), IL-18 receptor 1 (IL-18R1), IL-18 receptor accessory protein (IL-18RAP), and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) were measured. Agitation levels were estimated with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale Excited Component. Multiple linear- and logistic regression were used to investigate the associations between agitation and the immune markers, while controlling for confounders. The influence of psychotic and affective symptoms was assessed in follow-up analyses. Results Agitation was positively associated with IL-18BP (β = 0.13, t = 3.41, p = 0.0007) after controlling for multiple confounders, including BMI, smoking, medication, and substance use. Adjustment for psychotic, manic, and depressive symptoms did not affect the results. There were no significant associations between agitation and the other investigated immune markers (IL-1RA (β = 0.06, t = 1.27, p = 0.20), IL-18 (β = 0.05, t = 1.25, p = 0.21), IL-18R1 (β = 0.04, t = 1.01, p = 0.31), IL-18RAP (odds ratio = 0.96, p = 0.30)). In a subsample (N = 463), we also adjusted for cortisol levels, which yielded unaltered results. Conclusion Our findings add to the accumulating evidence of immune system disturbances in severe mental disorders and suggest the IL-18 system as a part of the biological correlate of agitation independent of affective and psychotic symptoms.