Digital Public Defence: Helge Toft

MSc Helge Toft at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis “Cytokines and psychiatric symptoms in patients receiving inpatient treatment: The relationship between changes in immune activation and symptoms of mental distress. A 12-week follow-up study of patients with mental health disorders” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Foto: Marte Goplen

The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

Click here to participate in the public defence

Download Zoom here


Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

See Digital Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Senior researcher Carl Sellgren Majkowitz, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska institutet, Sweden
  • Second opponent: Professor Heidi Ormstad, Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, The University of South-Eastern Norway
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Erik Gunnar Jønsson, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Professor Emeritus Gunnar Tellnes, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Researcher Lars Lien, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo


Patients with common psychiatric diseases like mood disorders and anxiety disorders have often been found to exhibit chronically elevated levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines when compared to healthy people. Studies have found such associations in cross-sectional assessments, but little is known about how the relationship between cytokines and psychiatric symptom change over time in patients receiving inpatient treatment. It is also unclear if psychiatric diseases precede chronic inflammation, or if chronic inflammation precedes psychiatric diseases, although increasing evidence suggests a bidirectional loop. In addition, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs could mediate such associations. This doctoral thesis aimed to investigate the levels and trajectories of cytokines IL-1β, IL-1RA, MCP-1 and TNF-α and psychiatric symptoms as measured by SCL-90R GSI and BDI-II in a mixed sample of psychiatric patients across 12 weeks of inpatient treatment at Modum Bad Psychiatric Center. The use of anti-inflammatory drugs was taken into account. Patients diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder had higher cytokine levels and showed a more severe development in cytokine levels across the treatment period than patients with depression, anxiety or eating disorder. The cytokines in patients without PTSD were either unchanged or showed decreasing levels across time. Regardless of diagnosis, most patients benefited from treatment, as reported by lower GSI scores at discharge. The levels of IL-1RA and MCP-1 were not associated with the trajectory of psychiatric symptom scores across time, but were associated with psychiatric symptom level. This result was only present in patients who did not use anti-inflammatory drugs, possibly suggesting a mediating effect of such drugs on psychiatric symptoms for patients in treatment.

Additional information

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Published Sep. 18, 2020 1:17 PM - Last modified Oct. 5, 2020 10:45 AM