New research from Germany suggests that depression could have serious effects on the immune system, causing deformities to white blood cells that affect their function.

While previous studies have shown that depression causes immune-system changes, such as chronic inflammation, this is the first research to show that it may actually have more drastic effects on the physical functioning of immune cells.

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Depression and immunity: new research

The researchers interviewed 69 people who had been pre-screened as having a high risk for depression and 70 healthy volunteers, who acted as a control group.

The team used AI “deep learning” to examine over 16 million blood cell images for signs of changes in cell size and structure.

The machine learning algorithms helped to show that people with depressive disorders had higher deformities in their peripheral blood cells than the control group. However, cell size remained unchanged.

People who had persistent depressive disorder throughout their life showed higher levels of deformation in various white blood cells, including monocytes, neutrophils, erythrocytes and lymphocytes.

The study is the first time a relationship between depressive disorders, especially persistent disorders (which continue for more than two years), and increased deformities in blood cells. This suggests depression could cause a weakened immune system and increase susceptibility to disease.

New wearable tech can track your health using gases emitted by the skin


According to a new study in the journal PLoS One, in the not-too-distant future wearable devices could track your health in real time by measuring gases produced by your skin.

At present, most wearable fitness devices use electrical signals to measure the chemicals produced as you sweat. One major downside to this is that these sensors tend to need large amounts of perspiration to give an accurate reading.

The new study, involving researchers from Ohio State University, suggests that this won’t be a problem for the next generation of wearables, however.

“It is completely non-invasive, and completely passive on the behalf of the user,” says lead author Anthony Annerino, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, in a university release.

Click here to read more about the future of wearable tech

Now the researchers want to identify the mechanism behind these effects, as it could provide insight into new treatments.

“We are working in parallel on research into pharmacological therapies to improve a dysfunctional biology as well as psychological therapies to improve dysfunctional cognitive and emotional processes,” says Andreas Walther, a researcher at the Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Zurich and lead author of the study, in a university release.

“Indeed, in my opinion, only a holistic approach can understand and efficiently treat this complex disorder and hopefully prevent much suffering in the future,”

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