Association of CD8 T cells with depression and anxiety in patients with liver cirrhosis

Fang Yuan Ko, Shih Jen Tsai, Albert C. Yang, Yang Zhou, Lie Ming Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur in patients with cirrhosis, but their underlying biological substrates are unclear. There is now evidence to suggest that depression is accompanied by signs of an immune response. This study investigated the correlation between depression/anxiety and T-lymphocyte subsets in liver cirrhosis patients. Methods: A total of 59 patients (37 males and 22 females; aged between 26-81 years) with cirrhosis were enrolled in the study. Severity of depression and anxiety were assessed through the Hamilton depressive scale (HAMD, the 24-item version) and the Hamilton anxiety scale (HAMA). T-lymphocyte subsets (CD3, CD4, and CD8) in peripheral blood were determined by flow cytometry. The relationship between lymphocyte subsets and depression/anxiety scores was studied by correlation analysis. Results: The mean total HAMD and HAMA scores for the 59 subjects were 12.8 ± 10.4 (range = 0-46) and 7.0 ± 5.7 (range = 0-26), respectively. Fourteen of 59 subjects (23.7%) had HAMD scores equal to or above 20, indicative of depression. The percentage of CD8, but not CD3 or CD4, in T-lymphocyte subsets was positively correlated with depression (HAMD) (r = 0.268, P = 0.043) and anxiety severity (HAMA) (r = 0.321, P = 0.013). After controlling for age and Child-Pugh scores, the correlations were still significant. Conclusion: Around one-fourth of cirrhosis patients may have depression, although depression is not related to cirrhosis severity. Our findings are the first to show that depression and anxiety may be associated with increased levels of CD8 in T-lymphocyte subsets in cirrhosis patients, suggesting that an imbalance of T-lymphocyte subsets may be a factor facilitating depression and anxiety in cirrhotic patients. Examination of CD8 T-lymphocytes may prove useful in assessing the potential relationship between depression, anxiety, immunity, and liver cirrhosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-29
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • anxiety
  • CD8
  • cirrhosis
  • depression
  • T lymphocyte subsets


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