Depression, anxiety aggravated in vitiligo patients

14 May 2022
Depression, anxiety aggravated in vitiligo patients
Winnie Harlow, a top model, suffers from Vitiligo. PC: The Odyssey

Vitiligo patients suffer from greater levels of depression and anxiety, both of which appear to be associated with serum levels of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), reveals a recent study.

Ninety-six vitiligo patients participated in the present study and accomplished the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) scales. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were used to measure serum levels of CRH and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). A parallel group of 96 healthy participants was also included for comparison.

Compared with controls, vitiligo patients had significantly higher scores in GAD-7 (median, 4.00 vs 1.00; p<0.001) and PHQ-9 (median, 2.00 vs 0.00; p=0.013), suggestive of worse anxiety and depression symptoms, respectively. Scores between the two psychometric scales were also correlated with each other (r, 0.296; p=0.003).

Similarly, median levels of CRH (6.39 vs 3.24; p<0.001) were significantly elevated in patients, while median BDNF (2.60 vs 3.23; p<0.001) was significantly lowered.

Of note, Spearman’s correlation analysis found a significant but weak link between GAD-7 scores and serum CRH levels (r, 0.214, p=0.036). Receiver operating curve analysis also found that serum CRH was significantly but poorly prognostic of vitiligo events (area under the curve [AUC], 0.657), such that at a cutoff of 0.222, sensitivity and specificity values were 0.938 and 0.990, respectively. No such effect was reported for BDNF.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first investigation of serum CRH levels in vitiligo patients since other authors performed the CRH measurements in skin only. Also, the current study makes a significant contribution to the limited evidence of relationship between BDNF, vitiligo, and mental comorbidities,” the researchers said.

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