Food and Behaviour Research

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The effects of vitamin B on the immune/cytokine network and their involvement in depression

Mikkelsen K, Stojanovska L, Prakash M, Apostolopoulos V (2017) Maturitas.  2017 Feb;96: 58-71. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.11.012. 

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Increasing evidence indicates that there are various interactions between the nervous system and the immune system, and that the immune system plays an important role in the pathogenesis of depression.

Pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as IL-1, IL-6, TNF-α) have been implicated in the neurobiological manifestations of depression. The immune/cytokine network has a powerful influence on the brain. In addition, deficiency in B vitamins has been linked to depression. Hence, greater knowledge of how immune cells change in the presence of vitamin B derivatives could improve understanding of how immune changes may correlate with depression, all of which are discussed herein.


  • Low levels of vitamin B (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12) are common in patients with depression.
  • Vitamin B supplementation has been shown to improve depression outcomes.
  • The immune system plays a fundamental role in maintaining health. Over- or under-active immune system leads to disease.
  • There is a link between a pro-inflammatory profile and depression. Anti-inflammatory cytokines improve depression.
  • There is a clear link between vitamin B, the immune system and depression.


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