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Himmerich, Hubertus; Willmund, Gerd D.; Zimmermann, Peter; Wolf, Jörg-Egbert; Bühler, Antje H.; Kirkby, Kenneth C.; Dalton, Bethan; Holdt, Lesca M.; Teupser, Daniel and Wesemann, Ulrich (2016): Serum concentrations of TNF-α and its soluble receptors during psychotherapy in German soldiers suffering from combat-related PTSD. In: Psychiatria Danubina, Vol. 28, No. 3: pp. 293-298

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Background: Changes in serum concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and its soluble receptors (sTNF-R) p55 and p75 have been shown to be associated with various psychiatric treatments. Subjects and methods: Before and after treatment, serum levels of TNF-alpha, sTNF-R p55 and sTNF-R p75 were measured in 38 German soldiers who had been deployed abroad and suffered from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Patients were randomized either to inpatient psychotherapy (N= 21) including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) or to outpatient clinical management (N= 17). Symptoms of PTSD were measured using the Post-traumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS). Results: The PDS score significantly decreased across time in both groups. Serum concentrations of TNF-alpha increased, while sTNF-R p55 and sTNF-R p75 levels decreased significantly. After the treatment period, we could not detect any significant difference regarding TNF-alpha, sTNF-R p55 or sTNF-R p75 levels between the inpatient psychotherapy group and the outpatient clinical management control group. Conclusions: This relatively small clinical study suggests that specific inpatient psychotherapy but also non-specific supportive outpatient treatment for PTSD are associated with changes in the TNF-alpha system. This may represent an immunological effects or side effects of psychotherapy.

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