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UCLA study suggests link between untreated depression, response to shingles vaccine
Date:2/19/2013

Can an individual's state of mind effect how well a vaccine may work? In the case of seniors and shingles, the answer is yes.

Reporting in the current online edition of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, Dr. Michael Irwin, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, demonstrates a link between untreated depression in older adults and decreased effectiveness of the herpes zoster or shingles vaccine.

Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that can last for months or even years. It's caused by the varicellazoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. It's thought to strike more than a million people over the age of 60 each year in the U.S.

Every year, health officials urge individuals 50 and older to get vaccinated against the virus. The vaccine boosts cell-mediated immunity to the virus and can decrease the incidence and severity of the condition.

But in a two-year study, Irwin, the first author of the research and director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, and his colleagues measured immune responses to the shingles vaccination among 40 people aged 60 or older who suffered from a major depressive disorder and compared these responses to similar levels in 52 control patients matched by age and gender. Measurements were taken at the beginning of the study, and then at six weeks, one year and two years after the patients received either the shingles vaccine or a placebo.

Depressed patients not being treated with antidepressants showed a weaker immune response to the varicellazoster virus and thus were less able to respond to the shingles vaccine than patients who were not depressed and patients who suffered from depression but werereceiving treatment with antidepressants.

The findings suggest that patients with untreated depression were "poorly protected by the shingles vaccination," Irwin said.


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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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