Complement component 3 levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of cognitively intact elderly individuals with major depressive disorder

Anilkumar Pillai, Davide Bruno, Jay Nierenberg, Chirayu Pandya, Tami Feng, Chelsea Reichert, Jaime Ramos-Cejudo, Ricardo Osorio, Henrik Zetterberg, Kaj Blennow, Nunzio Pomara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Late-life major depression (LLMD) is a risk factor for the development of mild cognitive impairment and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular dementia. Immune dysregulation and changes in innate immune responses in particular, have been implicated in the pathophysiology of both LLMD and AD. Complement system, a key component of the innate immune mechanism, is known to play an important role in synaptic plasticity and cognitive functions. However, its role in LLMD remains unknown. In the present study, we examined the levels of complement component 3 (C3, the convergence point of all complement activation pathways) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of elderly depressed subjects compared to healthy controls; as well as the relationship of CSF C3 levels with amyloid-beta (Aβ42 and Aβ40), total tau (T-tau) and phosphorylated tau (P-tau) proteins and cognition scores. CSF was obtained from 50 cognitively intact volunteers (major depression group, N = 30; comparison group, N = 20) and analyzed for levels of C3 by ELISA. C3 levels were marginally lower in the major depression group relative to the comparison group. We did not find any significant association of C3 with the AD biomarkers Aβ42 reflecting plaque pathology, P-tau related to tau pathology or the neurodegeneration biomarker T-tau. In contrast, C3 was positively correlated with CSF Aβ40, which may reflect Aβ deposition in cerebral vessel walls. We observed a negative correlation between C3 levels and Total Recall on the Buschke Selective Reminding Test (BSRT) for memory performance in the depressed subjects when controlling for education. This initial evidence on C3 status in LLMD subjects may have implications for our understanding of the pathophysiology of major depression especially in late life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100007
JournalBiomarkers in Neuropsychiatry
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors


  • CSF
  • Cognition
  • Complement
  • Immune
  • Late-life depression
  • Major depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biochemistry, medical


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