Peripheral immune factors are elevated in women with current or recent alcohol dependence and associated with altered mood and memory

Clare J. Wilhelm, Bret E. Fuller, Marilyn Huckans, Jennifer M. Loftis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background The adverse effects of alcohol on brain function result, in part, from inflammatory processes. The sex-specific neuropsychiatric consequences and inflammatory status of active alcohol dependence and early remission from dependence have not been investigated. Methods Neuropsychiatric symptoms, inflammatory factors, and liver enzymes were compared in a prospective cohort study of adults with (n = 51) or without (n = 31) a current or recent history of alcohol dependence. Results Neuropsychiatric profiles were similar in adults with current or recent alcohol dependence regardless of sex. In male and female participants measures of depression (female p < 0.05, male p < 0.001), anxiety (female p < 0.001, male p < 0.001), and memory complaints (female p < 0.001, male p < 0.05) were elevated, relative to non-dependent controls. Significant sex × alcohol dependence history interactions were observed for plasma levels of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), with women in the alcohol dependent group exhibiting increased levels of both analytes (p < 0.05) relative to controls. Positive correlations between TIMP-1 levels and measures of depression (r2 = 0.35, p < 0.01), anxiety (r2 = 0.24, p < 0.05) and memory complaints (r2 = 0.44, p < 0.01) were found in female, but not male, participants. Conclusions Though neuropsychiatric profiles were similar for men and women with current or recent alcohol dependence, plasma factors associated with increases in depression, anxiety, and memory impairment differed and support the need to tailor treatments based on sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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